HRH MAG VOLUME XVII - GORMANUDUR
s t n e t Con
! a y r o f t n e t n o Here’s some c 06 Helgrind 08 Jerry Cantrell 12 HRH HTH / Sleaze IV 14 The Darkness 16 Whitechapel 18 Michael Schenker
20 HRH Prog X in Photos 22 Massive Wagons 28 Viki’s Fresh Hell 34 Dream Theater 36 HRH Goth in Photos 38 Beast in Black 39 Burnt Out Wreck 42 The Quireboys 44 When Rivers Meet 46 Steve Howe 47 Jimmie Vaughan 48 Editor’s Picks of 1983 50 Joe Bonamassa 54 Of Mice & Men 56 Rockdocs on Prime 58 Nekromant 60 Kosmogonia 62 Redtank’s Guide 66 Govt Mule 68 The Review Zone 90 Exodus 92 King of The Dead 94 Atom Heart Mutha 96 The Autumn Killers 98 Jimmy B & The Death Rattles 100 The Dark Circle Interview page 3
It’s great to be back!
Welcome to volume
So live events finally happened - and oh boy was it worth the wait! We had thousands of rock and metal fans flooding through the doors at HRH Sleaze IV in Sheffield, HRH Prog X in Sheffield and London, the very first HRH Goth in Leeds and London and HRH Punk II back in Sheffield. What incredible weekends they were - it was incredible to see all the smiles on everyone’s faces from the fans, the bands, the press to all the crew who make these amazing events come alive. This brings us nicely to the coming few weeks ahead of us we certainly are making up for lost time with Hard Rock Hell XIV, HRH ABC, HRH Vikings III and HRH NWOCR all coming up - and we can’t wait. Back to this issue of HRH Mag which I’m proud to say is going from strength to strength. We welcome with open arms our cover stars Massive Wagons, who continue their meteoric rise to the top having secured another high profile tour support this time with The Darkness - whose legendary drummer Rufus Taylor also joins us for a chat.
Welcome to the team Adrien perrie
If he’s not at a goth gig then he’s on the radio playing goth tracks and if he’s not on the radio playing goth tracks he’s playing goth metal with his band Cadence Noir. Adrien likes goth alot. He also loves other metal and rock actually, but I’m sure he doesn’t us want to reveal his guilty pleasures. At least not music ones. A legend to work with who thinks nothing of providing a sandwich at short notice. Top geezer.
Neil ‘NOT’ ‘ coggins
If he’s not at a metal gig then he’s on the radio playing metal tracks and if he’s not on the radio playing metal tracks he’s playing metal at home on his huge stereo system. Probably. Neil loves his cats, which endears him to his editor immensely and likely explains why his requests for longer deadlines are usually met with approval and a poor attempt at a meeow. Another top geezer.
JOHN ‘AHM’ eLLIS
The man of many names, the guru of stoner, the leader of men, and the keeper of the greatest ginger beard on the planet. Always the first to raise his hand when his editor has completely forgotten a “must be in” piece, even if this means that his beard must take lower priority for an hour or two. As always, a huge thank you to ALL the hardworking bands, photographers and writers that have contributed to this issue. It’s very much appreciated by us all.
We have a personal favourite of mine in this issue, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains fame who talks to us about his latest solo album. Giants of modern metal Of Mice & Men and Whitechapel feature, as well as old-schoolers Exodus, Dream Theater and Michael Schenker, plus underground metallers Helgrind. Our intrepid man on the ground Adam Kennedy managed to keep Spike of The Quireboys in one place for long enough to get his take on the world, as well as grabbing some rare minutes with a legend of the blues-rock scene Joe Bonamassa. So together with Si Redtank’s Guide to Thrash (Part 1) and Atom Heart Mutha giving us a glimpse into the stoner scene, there really is something for everyone in this issue. Stay safe and keep rockin’ and see you on the other side (of Christmas!)... Toby, Editor November 2021
Managing Editor and Design - Toby Winch, firstname.lastname@example.org Sub-Editor - Adam Kennedy Contributing Writers: John Ellis, Simon Redtank, Russell Peake, Viki Ridley, Adam Kennedy Charlotte Hooper, Dennis Jarman, Jezebel Steele, Diane Webb, Si Fox Neil ‘Not’ Coggins, Simon ‘Spindles’ Potthast, Adrien Perrie, Mikki Smith, Alex Clarke, Steve Beastie, Toby Winch, Simon Dunkerley, Scott Knowles Contributing Photographers: Adam Kennedy, Simon Dunkerley, John McMurtrie, Peter Gill Josh Dorfman, Damian John, Rayon Richards, Diane Webb, Sean Larkin Terry Crouch, Jon Sturdy, Todd V Wolfson, Eleanor Jane, Jay Sansone Tom Damsell, Vaggelis Gkagkastathis Advertising email@example.com - 020 7097 8698 Subscriptions Visit hrhmag.com/subscribe or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher - Dark Watch BVI Limited - email@example.com
Chairman / Founder - Jonni Davis Chief Operating Officer - Fleur Elliott Media and Label Director – John Ellis - firstname.lastname@example.org Head of HRH Press & Media Sales - Toby Winch - email@example.com HRH Official Photographer - Simon Dunkerley - firstname.lastname@example.org All contents ©HRH Mag are published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or used in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. HRH Mag is a trading name for Dark Watch BVI Ltd registered in British Virgin Islands (BVI). All information contained in this publication is for information only and, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Dark Watch BVI Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price and other details of products or services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control and we are not responsible for their contents or any changes or updates to them. If you submit unsolicited materials to us you automatically grant Dark Watch BVI Ltd a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine - including any physical or digital format of said magazine throughout the world. Any material sent is at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Dark Watch BVI Ltd nor any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.
“It’s not the kill - it’s the thrill of the chase”
Formed in London in 2000, thrashers Helgrind are about to unleash their long-awaited 4th album ‘Insurrection’. Nine tracks of furious thrash metal that will delight the hearts of thrashers old and young alike. HRH Mag caught up with singer/bassist Paula Nelson for the lowdown on all the happenings in the Helgrind camp. Helgrind have been going for 21 years now, incredibly. The thrash scene (especially in the UK) was not really in a good way back in 2000 - how did the band get together all those years back, and how hard was it to get gigs as a thrash band back then? We were a different band and name back in 2000, more NWOBHM style. We were about to get signed and a few members decided they didn’t want to go down that path which left 3 of us. The original guitarist Andy Hobbs came up with the name Helgrind and we decided to play more thrash, punk, death styles because of our main influences. I was only the vocalist originally and took over bass and vocal from that moment. Thrash shows weren’t really that hard to find, it was more underground back then but we found there was a hunger for the music and played our first shows about two months after writing our first load of material. We used a really rubbish and crude tape recording as our demo, just a small stereo on the corner of the room and blasting out the songs hahaha, it was terrible but we got shows. The emergence of bands like Evile, and other new wave of thrash bands at the time, must have been a boon for the scene back then. What reactions were you getting from the crowds at the time and did you think that Helgrind deserved to be at the forefront of that new wave? It was an amazing time actually, Evile being on the “Get In The Ring” TV Show really helped the thrash scene, we used to talk to Herman Li from Dragonforce a lot back then too and compare notes on what we were doing
“Fans of metal need to take more of a risk to see bands they haven’t heard of.” Paula Nelson, Helgrind
and what we should be doing. It was a great time for the underground scene really - everyone was helping each other out. In those days though Helgrind were like marmite, you either loved us or hated us, for some we were too brutal and aggressive. It wasn’t until 2007 that people really started taking notice of us. I personally don’t like to think we should be named at the forefront of that new wave, we were just doing our thing and enjoying ourselves it’s the same as now really, but these days we have to visit more countries. You’ve already amassed a few albums under your bullet belts already, and now there’s a new Helgrind record entitled ‘Insurrection’. Obviously recording during the pandemic must’ve been an interesting experience but it still sounds absolutely huge. How did the writing process differ from earlier releases? We had been working on this album since around 2014, the demos were completed in 2015 and originally recorded and ready for release in 2017. We weren’t happy with where we were, in the business end of the band the setup was all wrong and the final recording really showed that, but we were already booked to tour Europe on the back of the album and did that. It was only when we got a break that Simon and I sat down and re-produced the album, the drums were immense and fine but the rest we felt wasn’t its best. Simon and I have our studios, so during lockdown we re-recorded the album and sent each other the parts. Simon did the mixing and when we were happy with it (December 2020) he sent it to me to master for release. In the meantime, we were in discussion with Metal Rocka Recordings and sorting how this was going to be released. In terms of the writing process it has always been the same way, I write a load of music and send a rough demo to the band. This time was the first time I
wrote with Simon and he would take my rough demos and put his spin on the idea or he would send stuff to me and I would do the same. It was rare for us to be in the same place to write the material.
‘80s when you could see someone like Iron Maiden at your local venue. We take a break in the summer for the festival season and then back on it from September to November. We also go to Europe in April.
With songs like ‘Bitter End’, ‘Breeding Hate’, ‘Dead Shall Rise’ and ‘Massacre The Suffering’ it’s a fair bet that the subject matter is as heavy as the music itself. What inspired your lyrical themes? Lyrical themes come from everywhere, films, books, news, walking down the street. For me it’s all about being in the right frame of mind to write - most of what we write is just made up stuff, nothing factual and that’s important in thrash. The music is an escape for a lot of people and you don’t need someone preaching to you. ‘Bitter End’ is about the madness in a psychopaths mind thinking he can cleanse the world by killing people, ‘Dead Shall Rise’ is a mass murderer boasting about his killing and wanting to do more, ‘Breeding Hate’ is just about how no one is born with prejudice but it is taught and some people will never break that cycle, ‘Massacre The Suffering’ is about armies giving kids guns to fight wars about stuff they don’t understand - I was desperately trying not to say fight wars for a religion they don’t understand haha but there you have it, the world can be a little messed up!
How do you currently view the UK metal scene at the moment? There seems to be a lot of very good bands bubbling away on the underground but not many bands bothering the mainstream. Is it harder for newer bands to make that step up in the scene today? There is an incredible amount of talent in the metal scene these days, there were fewer bands when we started that were really stand out bands so it was a little easier back then. There are changes to the industry we all need to take into account and how music fans interact with bands these days. It’s not about going to your local venue to check out bands anymore it’s all about checking the social media stuff first.
The music itself is gloriously old-school, chaotic thrash that will attract fans of the genre old and young. What bands inspired you in the early days? Each member brings a different influence to the band. For me personally, I would say growing up in the ‘80s and watching some of the greatest thrash bands on the planet during their rise was a massive influence on me to write this style. Motorhead, Overkill, Exodus, Slayer, Metallica, Kreator, Sabbat, Sepultura to name a few, it was an amazing time to be alive. Post-pandemic, things seem to be reverting back to a more normal state. What plans do Helgrind have to take ‘Insurrection’ to the masses? We have a UK tour set up starting January, which will be going to London, Norwich, Northampton, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, Inverness, Hastings, Reading, Bristol, Swansea and of course Hammerfest 13, opening the main stage on the 12th Feb. We are doing everything in the underground and sticking to the regional shows, a bit like the old days of the
It’s harder in a sense these days for newer bands but only because they are against more bands, the need to categorise every band into a genre or subgenre more and people tend to be a little social media lazy. In Germany we had people driving 3-4hrs to come and see our show just because their friend said we were good live, in the UK it’s hard to get people on a 10minute bus ride to venue for a band you’re friends with. Since lockdown and of course Brexit, fans of metal need to take more of a risk to see bands they haven’t heard of. Finally, a fantasy scenario for you - Helgrind have won an obscene amount of money and are going to curate their own festival with you headlining, of course. Which 6 other bands would you like to see join you on the bill? The other members won’t agree with me on this hahaha but I hold the cash…Testament, Exodus, Overkill, Acid Reign, Xentrix, New World Depression (German death metal band - check them out) that would be amazing actually. A bit like Clash of the Titans in the ‘90s, the new generation missed these great shows! WORDS: NEIL ‘NOT’ COGGINS
UNCHAINED As the old saying goes, all good things come to those who wait. And that’s certainly the case in respect of Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell who recently unveiled his first new solo album in almost 20 years. Like many artists, Cantrell’s forthcoming album ‘Brighten’ came to fruition during the pandemic era. “I had a record to concentrate on during the lockdown,” states Jerry. “I came out the other side with something I’m really proud of with a great group of friends.” Presently all is well within the Alice In Chains camp, giving the veteran guitarist the time and the opportunity to explore other creative avenues. Jerry spoke of why it’s taken so long to make a new solo record: “I’ve been working with my other band - my day gig; that’s why I haven’t done it until now,” explains Cantrell. “The band is in a really good place, and we worked really hard to make that. Fans accepted William into the band, and after that, we made to re-establish the band. We put three albums on the books and multiple world tours - it’s in a good place. I felt like - was it time if I wanted to make another record, and it turned out that I did.” In the early stages of the project, Cantrell got together with a bunch of artists to perform a couple of rare solo shows in Los Angeles. “I wasn’t really saying a lot about what I was doing. But I thought it might be a little hint that maybe something was on the way if I did a couple of shows,” explains Jerry. “What I will say is that there’s a good chunk of the players on this record that were on stage with me at that gig.” Of course, recording an album against the backdrop of a global pandemic introduced a whole raft of complications. “Every album has its challenges, and this was obviously very unique, but there’s always shit you’ve got to go through, and you’ve got to make it work whether that’s logistically or personal or personnel. You have to remain fluid and deal with it,” proclaims Cantrell. “The good part for me and the guys is we were able to track basics before everything shut down. So, that’s where you’ve got ten guys in a room together, including the engineers from the studio and the band. The big group stuff we cut right away as we were figuring out - oh sh*t - this looks really bad.” The first single to be released from the album was “Atone” - this being a track that Jerry has wanted to finish for almost twenty years. “There is some stuff that happens spontaneously with every record where this happened in the moment, either in rehearsal or while you’re recording, or whatever there’s a handful of those ideas. But most of my stuff is years in the process of crafting. And it starts with just ideas,” explains Jerry. “It’s really not uncommon, and pretty much anything that you hear has been something I’ve been tinkering with for years.” Songs on the album such as “Prism of Doubt” and “Black Hearts and Evil Done” feature pedal steel guitar, giving them an almost Americana feel. “I do like a lot of different styles of music. I love songwriting, and I love storytelling,” said Jerry. “I think it’s amazing and magical that you can have a feeling about something. Then you can record it onto something inanimate - like a piece of plastic. Put it in a package, and they open it up, and it comes to life again - and they react to it. You form a relationship with somebody
you may never meet in your life. I always thought that was amazing.” A simplistic yet thought-provoking analogy of how music is consumed - perhaps you agree? Although Jerry Cantrell explores a more vast musical palette on ‘Brighten’ than maybe he would with Alice In Chains, he doesn’t necessarily think he needs a solo vehicle to write this kind of music. “It’s not so weird to me,” confirms Cantrell. “Alice In Chains didn’t record these songs, so that’s really the only definition, as far as like whatever we can do. I think very early on in our career, by doing ‘Sap’ and ‘Jar of Flies’, and then just multiple album tracks of a different style or more kind of low key laid bare songwriting, it’s been a hallmark of Alice In Chains since the get-go.” Jerry co-produced his new album alongside Tyler Bates. The latter is well renowned for his work in the movie industry, particularly for his film scores on both 300 and John Wick. “I’m really lucky to have him involved because he has that cinematic background, but he’s a rocker, and he’s a guitar player. And more than anything, he’s just a fantastic guy to be around,” explains Cantrell. Tyler’s approach to production helped to get the best out of the artist. “The majority of the time, you want your artists to feel confident and good and on firm ground. There are other times to kind of kick him in the ass and knock him off balance a little bit, to get a little fire out of them. He’s got all of those qualities,” confirms Cantrell. The secret to making good rock music is that it’s all in the energy of the performance. “It shouldn’t feel safe. Go like the train could come off the rails at any minute, but it doesn’t. It’s unbelievable. It has got to have some danger to it. It has got to provoke an emotion,” explains Jerry. “I don’t want somebody listening to my sh*t and going eh - it’s all right. I want them to say that’s f*cking great or that f*cking sucks. Either one of those is fine. Hate it or love it – that’s good, I did my job.” Speaking about the making of his new album, Cantrell states that he “really enjoyed it” and that he “still likes it.” As an artist, you can become your own biggest critic. “It’s got to survive not only your criticism and your will to kill it but your bandmates as well. And if it can get through all of that, then it’s a pretty good tune,” concludes Cantrell. Looking forward, Jerry Cantrell has plans to return to the road in the nottoo-distant future. Speaking about his touring plans - Jerry said: “We’ve already got dates booked in the States from March to May, and we’ll be doing the US tour there. And hopefully, get over to Europe over the summer and early fall. And then, we’ll see where we go from there.” ‘Brighten’, the new solo album from Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell is out now. WORDS : ADAM KENNEDY
“It shouldn’t feel safe. Go like the train could come off the rails at any minute!” Jerry Cantrell, Alice in Chains
Highway to hell
AUGUST 27th 2021 THE RETURN OF
Congratulations to Highway To Hell XI Winners Bastette who celebrated earning a record deal with Off Yer Rocka Recordings. A huge shout out to the other 5 finalists - Lost Search Party, Fall From Ruin, Cry For Mercy, Kaluss and Building Giants. Many thanks also to Metal Rocka Recording’s very own Enquire Within who opened the show as special guests
HRH SLEAZE IV - Pictured are THE QUIREBOYS / WAYWARD SONS / Mercury riots / GYPSY PISTOLEROS / TWISTER / THE SUICIDE NOTES
IELD F F E H MY S E D A 021 O2 AC AUGUST 2 28/29
HRH SLEAZE IV - pictured are MIDNITE CITY / THE city kids /liberty slaves / tigertailz / south of salem / last great dreamers
Rufus Taylor The Darkness Emanating Light During Times of Darkness With almost prophetic accuracy, Brit rockers The Darkness managed to predict the future with their last album, ‘Easter Is Cancelled’. But it wasn’t only Easter that was cancelled, as we all know too well. When the COVID lockdown hit, the group were on tour in Australia. With the dynamically changing situation, The Darkness cancelled their tour ‘down under’ and headed home. At this point, they realised how serious things had become. “We changed our flight which connected through Singapore,” explains drummer Rufus Taylor. “We had a good idea of how seriously that side of the world was taking it, and by the time we got back to England, with nothing in place, we were like we’re going to die - everyone’s going to die.” But the lockdown didn’t stop Rufus from being productive. “I spent pretty much the whole year trying to learn guitar,” he said. Guitar playing side, once conditions allowed it, The Darkness went into the studio to get to work on their new album ‘Motorheart’. The challenge being that with frontman Justin Hawkins situated in mainland Europe, the group had to utilise the wonders of modern technology to work on their forthcoming release. “Justin was in Switzerland, so he wasn’t able to fly over. So, it was a very internationally made album,” explains Taylor. “We would send over the songs once we thought they were finished. Justin just loved each and every one of them. He would give it a few days listen, and then put some lyrics on it, and then a mind-bending solo - which he is so good at, and then send them back.” The title track itself sets the scene for the whole of the album. “I just thought it was pretty out there. The sci-fi theme of it – the concept of the song is this robot lover from the future - he builds this droid. It kind of fits in with the whole album cover idea that we were having. I had a slight Barbarella type of idea, and I kind of wanted to make that happen,” proclaims Rufus. With regards to the title itself, he says that: “We all decided it was the strongest word, and I know there is a band called Motorhead, but it’s a different word, and it means a different thing.” Likewise, with the group’s new single “Jussy’s Girl,”
Rufus states that the song: “Has late ‘70s, early ‘80s kind of classic written all over it, which made us laugh as much as it did dance.” Rufus goes on to explain that: “The title is obviously a nod to Rick Springfield, but it’s definitely not the same song.” The Darkness will be bringing their distinctive brand of rock and roll extravagance to the road as they embark on an extensive UK tour later this year. But what can the group’s fans expect from their shows this time around? “On the last tour, we did the whole album, which was quite brave, I think. So, we ended up doing two sets - literally the whole vinyl album from start to finish, in that order, then we did a different set. We’re definitely not going to have that approach this time. I think it’s going to be back to a mixed bag of what we think is working best right now,” explains Rufus. “We did talk about how many of the new ones we’re going to do, and we started at four, and at the moment, I think it’s six.” Of course, Rufus Taylor comes from a musical family. His father Queen drummer Roger Taylor, is also out on the road presently. When asked what the best advice was his dad had ever given him, Rufus said: “For music, he said, always play for the song. Never indulge, never play for yourself, and never show off. You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re just trying to make the song sound as good as possible.” On the other hand, “Business-wise, I had some mean stuff being said about me at the time, and because that situation, he just said something along the lines of don’t listen. And I was like, why? He said because every **** has an opinion.” The Darkness’ new album signals a return to doing what they love best. “This is an ‘excited to be getting back out there again’ album. It’s really positive, uplifting,” declares Rufus. “I just think it’s a proper good rock album, full of driving songs.” And if the last sentence doesn’t get you excited about ‘Motorheart,’ then nothing will. ‘Motorheart’ by The Darkness will be released on 19th November via Cooking Vinyl. The band will embark on a full UK tour throughout Nov/Dec commencing at the Brighton Dome on 17th November. WORDS : ADAM KENNEDY
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WHITECHAPEL Once upon a time, hidden within the dark doomed valleys of Knoxville, Tennessee, a monstrous sound emerged that echoed throughout the land. Whitechapel streamed across the metalcore scene, making their unique concepts and live displays become highly sought-after experiences. I was lucky enough to sit down with original member Ben Savage, who talked me through the growth of Whitechapel, from their early days of MySpace and touring alongside With Blood Comes Cleansing, to their upcoming release KIN through Metal Blade Records. We started by exploring the idea of concepts, looking right back at the very beginning with their debut album The Somatic Defilement based around the devilish mind of notorious English murderer Jack The Ripper - Ben even referenced that the track Fairy Fay was named after one of his victims. To coincide with the storytelling and first-person narrative in which the album was written, Alone
In The Morgue is from the eye of a coroner who is a demented necrophiliac. The Ripper’s influence is also reflected in the band’s name which is the district where Jack The Ripper lurked for his prey.
Talking about the current themes that enchant their latest release Kin, Ben explained that these tracks are a lot more personal to the band “Phil talking about his childhood - true events and true stuff”. He continued by expressing the growth of sound and reflecting on their previous work and how they reached the point of writing Kin “You can paint a picture around it with the artwork. Kin for example is very fantasy based whereas the Valley was like true events; internal struggles in his [Phil’s] mind and how they manifest into real beings like good and evil. It also deals with psychology concepts of the shadow self - and after traumatic events, people will have one part of their consciousness that won’t transcend as they grow old, so it kind of stays there. So Kin touches on that stuff. The music is changing with the subject matter.”
Vinyl is a format that is sentimental to the guys of Whitechapel and if like myself you’re a keen collector of vinyl, you will be delighted to hear that KIN will be released on a limited edition splatter vinyl as well as the usual streaming and download platforms. When asked why releasing as a vinyl record, Ben explained the appreciation he has for this particular music format “It’s the most timeless way to listen to music, its engrained in wax – it’s not like digital, CD or tape that would wither. Is it Thomas Emerson who discovered sound - he blew a horn into a piece of aluminium and ran a needle down it and he could listen back and hear the sound it formed. It’s an original format, it’s timeless.” The artwork for Kin was actually designed by Ben’s wife and he explained that the vinyl sleeve holds its true beauty of dot work due to its size. Touring has always been a big part of the Whitechapel history and there is good reason. Being one of the first metalcore bands to come from Knoxville, they were building the scene that at the time was non-existent, this becoming their main inspiration - playing music, writing songs and embracing their own. Currently based in Nashville, Ben expressed that “when people think of Tennessee, they think of probably Jack Daniels whiskey and Nashville - the music city! Nashville is the music hub of the United States, it’s got
all the business headquarters, the touring infrastructure, a bunch of equipment rentals, tour buses and a bunch of the big money and - country music. We’re just from a town three hours east of it.” Closing the conversation we reflected on a poignant memory from being in Whitechapel and it definitely heated things up! When performing in the Philippines and putting on a show that included pyros, guitarist Alex Wade took a mighty pose lifting his foot onto the monitor to rake in the audience roar, when Ben shouted from across the stage and thankfully got him to jump away just as the fire burst before him! Pretty rock ’n’ roll if you ask me! Kin is available from 29th October 2021 through Metal Blade Records and it’s certainly going to be a pinnacle point in the Whitechapel catalogue. Moving forward these guys are posting constant content across their social platforms including track-bytrack lyric deconstruction videos, drum-focus clips and updates on all shows. They will also be playing in their hometown of Knoxville in December 2021 as well as a newly announced tour following in February 2022. WORDS : CHARL HOOPER
To say that the Michael Schenker Group has been in a creative period of late is a huge understatement – the band has released an unprecedented three new albums since 2018 - but promotional opportunities have largely been on hold due to the pandemic. “It’s a crazy world right now,” declares Michael Schenker. “What has happened in the last one and a half to two years is just unbelievable.” And who can argue with that sentiment? In terms of touring, Schenker said: “We did the ‘Resurrection’ album and had to postpone and cancel. Then we did the ‘Revelation’ album and we had to postpone and cancel. And then with the ‘Immortal’ album, we had to postpone and cancel - until now.” Fortunately for fans of the veteran guitarist, the band’s current four-date UK tour will go ahead. Michael Schenker will be joined on the road by special guest and HRH favourite Doro Pesch. “I’m very happy to have her on the tour. She is definitely a character, and she has been in the business for almost as long as I have - and she kept going. It’s great to have Doro with us.” On his current UK run, Michael Schenker will celebrate his 50th anniversary of being in the music business. Speaking of his musical landmark, the artist said that: “It’s unbelievable”. Michael continues by stating: “After 50 years, I’m very happy that I keep developing regardless of the disasters that are going on. Having had this period of one and a half to two years of not being able to play live, I can keep going. I’m an artist - I love to create, and I always come up with something fresh, and so that keeps me going.” But after 50 years in the business, does Michael still have the same fire in his belly as when he started back in the early seventies? “Absolutely – the difference is if you make music for money, or you make music as an artist, that is a big difference. And it’s the fire and the enjoyment of creating that will never die,” said Michael. One of the things that Michael did to commemorate this achievement was to re-record the track “In Search of the Peace of Mind”, which originally featured on the Scorpions album ‘Lonesome Crow’. “That song was the first song I ever wrote in my life when I was 15 years old, and there was nobody else helping. The Scorpions credit said it was written by everybody - but it’s not true, it was written by myself,” he said. On the topic of the guitar solo, Michael proclaims: “I cannot understand today, how I came up with those notes - it’s unbelievable. But because of that, and because it was my first ever written song, it makes sense to have it as a 50th-anniversary song – but to make it an epic, and that’s exactly what I did. Not to improve the song, but to add to it what I think today, and it worked out fantastic.” The latter of which can be found on MSG’s new album ‘Immortal’. Speaking of the album itself, Michael said that: “Immortal was fantastic. I was so happy with Immortal and with the guests that we have on the album - it was just amazing.” Before the pandemic, the legendary figure had been touring with his former MSG bandmates as part of the Michael Schenker Fest. However, the concept had many logistical challenges and proved difficult during the era of the pandemic. “It was great to be with all those guys, and they went on very well with ‘Revelation’. But suddenly, we could not promote live our creations. Also, the Michael Schenker Fest is an expensive undertaking. And so, we are very limited with going on tour with flying people from all over the world. Of course, now with the virus, it’s impossible,” concludes Schenker.
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“I UNDERSTAND WHY RITCHIE BLACKMORE PICKED RONNIE ROMERO. HE CAN SING LIKE ANYBODY” However, the aforementioned challenges have not stopped Michael Schenker from moving forward. “I keep creating and thinking of ways to keep going. And the best way, especially in a hard time like this, is to have a compact band together with Ronnie [Romero] who can sing like anybody,” declares Michael. Of course, Ronnie Romero is an in-demand vocalist right now; he recently fronted the latest incarnation of Rainbow alongside Ritchie Blackmore. “I understand why Ritchie Blackmore picked Ronnie Romero because he can sing like anybody. And Ritchie needed that, and I need that too because I’ve got so many songs, with so many different singers. I need someone to be able to sing like them, and Ronnie can do it.” Joining Michael in the band is a stellar line-up. “We have gone through so many different versions of MSG with different singers and stuff like that and haven’t even promoted them live - other than Resurrection,” explains Michael. “Revelation never got promoted, Immortal didn’t - but will be now. So basically, we have a compact band with Ronnie Romero on vocals and Bodo Schopf on drums. Steve Mann on guitar and keyboards, on bass we have Barend Coubois,” Speaking of the latter, Michael said: “He is a fantastic bass player. He is a combination of Chris Glenn and Pete Way. He is really good, he is so prepared, and he is full of energy and ready to rock.” Reflecting on his landmark achievement, Schenker went on to say: “50 years - who would have thought that you can go on that long, but I want to go on longer than that. But as you get older, you have to work harder, and I want to make sure that I’m always on tip-top high peak performance.” Despite this, there are no signs of Michael Schenker slowing down. “We have just done a new album coming out in 2022, which again, it’s still very much Michael Schenker, but with some things in there that will keep people on their toes with strange timings. But in general, it’s a combination of melodic songs and stuff like that,” said Schenker. Although a new MSG album is in the pipeline, the legendary artist didn’t want to give too much away, and who can blame him – so watch this space for more news as it happens! ‘Immortal’ by the Michael Schenker Group is out now via Nuclear Blast. WORDS : ADAM KENNEDY
HRH PROG X - Arthur brown / Devient Amps / ATOMIC ROOSTER / OZRIC TENTACLES / MOSTLY AUTUMN / AXIOM
MPIRE E H S S BU D R 2021 E R H E P B E O2 SH 4/5 SEPTEM N LONDO
HRH PROG X - tiger moth tales / The enid / the skys / threshold / franck carducci / semper vera / bram stoker / colosseum
TIME TO RULE THE WORLD WITH
MASSIVE WAGONS page 22
With two consecutive Top 20 studio albums in the bag, the time is now for Lancaster based rockers Massive Wagons to rule the rock world. The band’s latest album - ‘House of Noise’ was released during the lockdown and entered the Official UK charts at an impressive #9. Having charted successfully with their previous album ‘Full Nelson’, the group had their hopes set on a Top 20 return, but it wasn’t until early sales figures started to roll in that they realized their dream was within reach. “I think the goal was to sell as many albums as possible. And then after a time, you start looking at the figures, and you think, oh - we’re in for a chance here,” explains guitarist Adam Thistlethwaite. “We want people to buy the album because it’s good, not because it’s going to make us a Top 10 band. We genuinely believe it’s good, but having that on your CV, it’s in black and white.” Having a Top 20 album can help to open doors within the music industry.
Continued... page 23
MASSIVe Wagons When the Wagons reached #16 with ‘Full Nelson’, a lot of things changed. Frontman Baz Mills states that: “Immediately people were interested in you that you would never have heard from before.” However, after the success of ‘Full Nelson’, did the band feel the pressure to follow up or surpass the chart position gained by their previous release? “We always want to better the last one without a doubt,” said Mills. “I never really felt any pressure with ‘House of Noise’ - I was just more excited for it. I felt a little more pressure at the start of writing the new one, which hasn’t been recorded yet. I was like - we’ve had two Top 20 albums; what the hell do we do now? What direction do we go in? Rather than naturally do what we’ve done before and go with it - I was trying to overthink it.” Speaking of the band’s forthcoming album, Mills adds: “Once we got past the first couple of songs and realized they were sounding alright, the rest of it just came along.” Whilst a lot of groups avoided releasing new albums during the lockdown, Massive Wagons threw caution to the wind, and the decision certainly paid off. However, the possibility of holding back the release was contemplated. “It was definitely mentioned, but we didn’t consider it for very long really because we just weighed up the advantages of doing it either way,” explains Thistlethwaite. “As there was no certainty to when it was all going to end, we thought, well, let’s strike while the iron is hot. Quite a lot of other acts did reschedule, and it opened a space in the release calendar. There weren’t many albums coming out at that time, so it was a bit of a no brainer. And with promoting it, we were held back a bit by the lack of touring and the lack of in stores and that sort of thing - but so was everybody at the time. So, it was a level playing field.” With ‘House of Noise’ Massive Wagons were committed to bringing mental health to the forefront of the conversation. Speaking on the subject, Mills said that: “I think it’s a big issue for a lot of people. It’s hard to know what sort of role social media plays in mental health. I think it’s a double-edged sword. I think it causes a lot of problems and I also think it’s great for people to contact other people and to air their issues and talk to people about it. So, it’s kind of hard to understand really. I just wanted to shine a light on it a little bit. And really, I think a lot of bands have done lately, and I think that’s only a good thing, to be honest.” On the other hand, the group were also able to inject their humour into tracks such as The Curry Song. “It’s a very Terrorvision sort of riff, I thought,” declares Mills. “I’ve always loved their Tequila song – it’s genius. I love commercial music; I think it’s great. And I just thought well they’ve obviously written about something they love doing, and people love doing, and can identify with. So, I thought, what else do people love doing? And I was like, eating curry. So, I thought we will write a song about that then. It’s just a logical thing.”
Subsequently, the group went on to invent a new word, or so it seems, via their song title Hallescrewya. The latter is a shoo-in to be included in the next revision of the Oxford English Dictionary. Speaking on how his colourful choice of language and the song itself was born, Mills said that: “We were playing in Dover; we were playing this gig. And then this guy just left halfway through the gig, and I was singing. I remember thinking, where is he going? He never came back in. And I thought - I wonder why he’s left. He looked like: ‘I’ve come to check these guys out, and they are not what I thought they were, so I’m going’. So, I thought, I’m going to write a song about him. And then I thought, how can I write the chorus – f**k you? Or screw ya? It probably just came like that - Hallescrewya.” It may have been a long time coming, but finally, with the return of some semblance of normality, the Wagons have been able to return to touring. “The first one back really was Download [Pilot]. It was kind of like being thrown in at the deep end a little. Your first proper gig back is a big event. It was a real celebration, as corny as that might sound,” concludes Mills. “I wouldn’t say it was emotional; we’re not really like that. We didn’t ever cry or anything like that,” adds Thistlethwaite. “But it just felt good. This is our bread and butter - playing live. And that’s kind of how we got wherever we’ve got, was always through the strength of our live performance. It just feels like we’ve got that back again.” It won’t be long until Massive Wagons return to the HRH stage, as the band will be headlining HRH NWOCR in Leicester next January. Speaking of the band’s appearance, Adam said: “I think the last thing we did was the HRH Awards in 2017, and I think it was the first HRH awards. Since then, other than the Road Trip the following year, we haven’t done anything. So yeah, it’s a long-overdue return to play.” Following the band’s current UK tour - what’s next for Massive Wagons? “The next looming thing is the recording of the next album,” explains Thistlethwaite. “That’s all pencilled in, and the producers are locked in place. The same as last time - Colin Richardson and Chris Clancy, and we can’t wait. The songs are there. We’re going to have a few more to squeeze in before we go in. But yeah, that’s what we’re all focused on once this is done.” Something to look forward to for fans of the Brit rockers. You can see Massive Wagons headline HRH NWOCR at the O2 Academy Leicester on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd January 2022. Although the event is officially sold out, for cancellations or upgrades, please visit: www. hrhnwocr.com.
WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY BAND PHOTO: JOHN MCMURTRIE LIVE PHOTO: ADAM KENNEDY
“What else do people love doing? And I was like, eating curry. So, I thought we will write a song about that then!” Barry Mills, Massive Wagons
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s ’ i k Vi
FrEsh HEll eLeCTRIC BLACK the hot damn! dazzle rebel roxville The mojo city rebels
Viki’s Fresh Hell
Who are you? We are Electric Black, a Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire based rock quartet consisting of: Ali Shiach - vocals/rhythm guitar Jonny Bryant - lead guitar/backing vocals Ryan Trotman - bass/backing vocals Matt Butler - drums Journey so far? We’ve been gigging in this line-up since 2018, however we previously existed as two halves of separate bands - essentially we’re a not-yet-famous supergroup! Matt & Ry were the perfect ready-formed rhythm brothers when Ali & Jon were looking to form a new project. Quite happily, the stars aligned and here we are! Having curated the complete line-up, we hit the ground running - and with a batch of songs ready and waiting, released our debut album in November 2019. It was very well received by both the rock community & media outlets alike (Classic Rock mag 7/10, Powerplay mag 9/10). Influences/sound? Musically we draw influence from many great bands; some with a southern feel, some with a hard edge - Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry, Free, Metallica, Jet, Rival Sons, Soundgarden, The Dead Daisies. Our sound consists of soaring clean vocals and mean guitar licks set atop a thunderous phat-bottomed rhythm section. We enjoy melody, harmony &
dynamic movement within songs, features we try to work into our own tracks. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Our proudest moment to date was arranging and successfully pulling off our debut album launch at local venue, Club 85. At the time, as an independent artist, the feeling of seeing a (very nearly) sold out 300-cap venue full of original music fans all out to see you, is going to be hard to beat! In addition, during the lockdowns we signed with WDFD records - a lovely team with a wealth of knowledge we look to learn from. This was another small but proud moment, since some bands didn’t even survive the lockdowns - we managed to buck the trend and focused efforts on developing our online presence in the wake of live gigs. We also used the lockdowns to write stacks of new material. What does the future hold for ELECTRIC BLACK? We have a forthcoming EP “Beggars, Thieves & Everything Inbetween” to be launched 20th November at Club 85 (available online a week later) with recording agreements in place for album 2 early 2022. Both projects will be produced by Mike Exeter (Black Sabbath/Judas Priest/Those Damn Crows) and we’re very excited for you guys to hear what we’ve been cooking up! WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTOS: PETER GILL
Viki’s Fresh Hell
The hot damn!
Who are you? The Hot (DIGGITY) Damn! Here to slap a smile on your face and put a tie dye tickle in your heart. Roll Call? Gill Montgomery (ex-Amorettes) on guitar and lead vocals, Laurie Buchanan (Cult Classics) on guitar and backing vocals, Lzi Hayes (New Device) bass guitar and backing vocals and Josie O’Toole (ex-Tequila Mockingbyrd) on drums. Hailing from? All over the shop - it’s hard to find a group of like-minded (mad enough) individuals at the best of times so we couldn’t afford to be too fussy about location. Gill is up in Scotland, Laurie is in Essex and Lzi and Josie live in Berkshire/Bucks. We like to keep things logistically interesting for ourselves! Journey so far? We started this band from the ashes of our previous bands The Amorettes and Tequila Mockingbyrd, just as the pandemic decided to smack us all in the face. So we have been trying to prep a lot of things from our own individual lockdown cupboards, including finding a bass player, writing music and the rest all done remotely. We only met up around 3 times last year which is hard when banding is such a practical venture, and being in the same room to play together was impossible/illegal. We made a conscious effort to try and document as much of our journey as we could through fly-on-the-wall mini-documentaries so we could at least connect with people and share the madness in that way while gigs were off the cards. When the music world started to defrost, we really had to hit the
ground running and get our shit together pronto, so it feels like we have been taking it each gig at a time up to now but it is starting to fall into place. So from Scotland to Berkshire via Essex.. road trippin’ to Lancashire via Wolverhampton, London, Nottingham and Lincolnshire! With each gig we are finding our stride.... Influences/sound? Difficult question... We are all super eclectic in our taste and all bring something different. We have influences from ‘70s rock and metal (Blondie, The Sweet, Slade, Queen, Led Zep, Sabbath, Dio etc) all the way through to The Struts, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain and the Spice Girls via some classic ‘80s hair metal!! If it’s bitchin’ we love it! We have a bit of a motto now “a good song is a good song”. We don’t want to discriminate and are writing accordingly. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Managing to actually launch a band during lockdown... That wasn’t easy, but we have had some fantastic support from some incredible people and a big thanks to our amazing fans, who helped us manage to make this a reality! What does the future hold for The Hot Damn!? We’ve got a small run of shows in October, followed by a full UK tour supporting The Dust Coda in December. We’ll be hitting the summer festivals next year. We may try to relaunch our failed tie-dye Influencer careers but for the moment, music comes first so we’ll be heading into the studio later this year... So keep those eyes and ears peeled! WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTOS: JOSH DORFMAN
Viki’s Fresh Hell
dazzle Rebel Who are you? Well, I was born Darren John Loczy, which is the name you’ll find on any of my songwriting credits. I’ve been known as Dazzle Rebel since 2005 when I was a founding member of Red Star Rebels. From 2011 until the first UK Covid Lockdown I had been kept in a cryogenic chamber. It’s because I was a modernday soothsayer who foresaw the events of the past decade and the authorities couldn’t have me telling anyone, so I got thrown into the fridge. Unfortunately, the chiller didn’t stop me from ageing though. I’m joking, of course. I haven’t really aged a day. Hailing from? I was born and raised in Dunstable, Bedfordshire but as an adult, I moved around a bit. I moved to Nottingham in 2010 and I’ve never felt more at home anywhere else. I now consider it my hometown. Journey so far? The first serious band I was in was called Surefire. We were determined to get somewhere and were together 6 days a week, either practising, writing or performing. With a small line-up change, Surefire turned into Red Star Rebels. I started a MySpace page for the new band and that’s when we really started to cultivate a following. Suddenly, we could access music fans around the country and hit them up when we were playing in their area. It was revolutionary! I do miss the old MySpace sometimes, even the garish profiles. Red Star Rebels bagged the main support slot for the Brides Of Destruction UK 2005 UK tour, at the last possible minute. This was our first proper tour and we dropped everything else to do it. As fate would have it, I ended up not only playing bass for Red Star Rebels on that tour but Brides of Destruction too! That was crazy. I left Red Star Rebels in 2007 for that old chestnut, “musical differences” and started working on my own material. At the time I lacked the confidence to front a band myself and couldn’t find anyone else who suited what I was writing. I moved to Nottingham in 2010 and joined New Generation Superstars. That was fun and it felt good to be playing live music again but I began to feel burnt out, so I quit and retired from making music. It was during the first lockdown that I thought I’d give it another go. I was working as a motorcycle salesman when the pandemic hit and I got placed on furlough. After two weeks of doing nothing but getting drunk and sunbathing in my garden, I realised that I should make the most of the time I’d been given. So, I fired up my 12-year-old Cubase DAW and started recording. I self-released my
debut single “Fortitude” in May 2020 and followed it up with a double-EP, The Attic Transmission. This is made up of older recordings which I had John JJ Watts remix, plus some older demos. By the time I had returned to work the music bug had once again taken over. Now I just can’t stop writing new material! Condor Leader is the next release that mixes the fruits of my lockdown labours with some older tracks I’d been working on for a while. Influences/sound? I think of myself as someone who appreciates good music, no matter the genre. I’m certainly not a square when it comes to my Spotify playlists. I think that’s why I find it so difficult to be nailed down to a certain sound. That’s something that I think has hampered my songwriting in the past but it’s something that I’m working on. Mostly though, I’d say my biggest influences come from the stuff I grew up listening to in the ‘90s. Bands like Alice In Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Terrorvision, The Wildhearts etc. I’ve also got an affinity with Warren Zevon. I describe my music as Fringe Rock, as it sits on the outskirts of traditional rock genres without being too avant-garde. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? For me, finally having the guts to front my own music is my proudest musical moment. As an introvert, I’m not a natural frontman and I’m by no means a great singer. Still, I do have a voice and I’ve got to a stage in life when I don’t really care if other people like it or not. For years I didn’t think that I deserved to be putting music out there, so it really does mean so much to me when people compliment what I’m doing now. If you’re reading this, thank you for listening. You rock! What does the future hold for Daz Rebel?! Lots, I hope! I’ve got big plans for 2022 which includes fresh material and a full-blown album. I am getting a band together to help make my recordings really rock. I won’t confirm who’ll be in it yet but they are names that Hard Rock Hell regulars may recognise. This will also mean I’ll be able to put on some live shows, something that I’ve not done since 2011. I’m talking to other artists about collaborating with other projects too. All I really know is that there’s a lot more music in me and I’m not going to spend another decade leaving it on the shelf.
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY
Viki’s Fresh Hell
Who are you? Hello Hard Rock Hellers! We are Roxville, a 5-strong hard rock / AOR band! Where are you from? We are currently hailing from London Town in the ‘sunny’ UK. Roll Call! Roxville are: Jamie Sloane - Vocals Chaz Jones - Guitars Rocco Valentino - Guitars Geos Letona - Bass Jerry Sadowski - Drums Journey so far? We have recently released our debut album called ‘Fallen from Grace’ after completing the bands current lineup in 2017. The aim was to make an album that could stand up to some of the great albums in the hard rock genre which have spanned over the last few decades. Did we succeed, you decide? Fallen from Grace was actually ready for release at the beginning of 2020 and then Covid hit forcing us to push it back by 14 months. We also did 2 lyric videos - they ended up being ‘lyric’ videos due to, again, the usual suspect Covid, leaving us to quarantine and stay away from each other - sometimes a good thing! Our pics were all taken by different random friends (professional aren’t we lol) - however, the cover artwork was designed by Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest who I hope makes a swift recovery from his recent heart condition. Myself and Richie used to live together for a few years. One morning, well it was probably afternoon and I don’t think I’d been up very long… I saw him at the kitchen table messing around with some artwork designs on Photoshop. I happened to peer over and mentioned that looks pretty cool, jokingly adding something along the lines of I’m going to get you to do my album artwork
one day. Low and behold a few days later he shows me this design and asks me what I think. Well, the rest is history on that one as it made it to the front cover of the album and on one of our t-shirts. Usually, I oversee most things Roxville but this was 100% him with no input from myself or the others and in the end a rather nice surprise! The response we have received from the album so far has been absolutely amazing-so a very big THANK YOU to all of you out there for all the support and positive vibes! Influences/sound? Our influences are mainly classic/hard rock bands like Van Halen, Motley Crue, W.A.S.P, Ratt, Toto, Journey, Ozzy etc. Other influences also include other genres of music that don’t necessarily fall into the rock / metal genre. Biggest gig / proudest moment to date? As far as gigs go - they don’t - at least not yet with the current lineup. We set out to get the album done first, so writing and recording were our priority. We plan to kick off with a UK tour next year so, once things are finalised we will let the world know just what we have to offer! Our proudest moment to date has to be finally finishing the album after a long hard struggle and holding that CD knowing the blood, sweat and tears we went through were worth it to achieve what we wanted. What does the future hold for ROXVILLE? Roxville intend to start touring next year (2022) starting with the UK and then hopefully Europe. There has also been a lot of support in the US so we are considering all options at the moment but everything is still up in the air. We also hope to have the second album out in 2023. WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY
Viki’s Fresh Hell
The Mojo city rebels
Who are you? We are The Mojo City Rebels, we are a classic / blues / hard rock band, with a sound “big enough for a stadium” which was a quote from one of our most recent shows! Roll call? On the drums we have Dariusz “Zippy” Lipinski Mike Webb takes the bass helm Tom Pitt tickles the ivories on keys On the guitar we have the king of Tone Henge, Matt Stewart And mincing his way around the stage, the love child of Rachel Riley & Thor, Sean Seabrook Hailing from? We live nowhere and we play everywhere. But you can usually find us somewhere around the midlands brandishing our phallic secret band member Daniel… You can find him on the merch stand holding up the shirts. Journey so far? The band’s first release was a self-titled EP in 2018, which was then followed by A New Light in 2020 which saw a new vocalist join the ranks - however shortly after The Mojo City Rebels would see Sean & Mike join the band and then we decided we would further enhance our sound and we got Tom on board, since then we have played a multitude of shows and have received nothing but positive feedback due to our sound, charisma and chemistry on stage. Influences/ sound? As a band we take a lot of influence from the ‘70s hard rock era, we then added a lot of atmospheric foundation with keyboards - we’ve been compared to the likes of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, Metallica… it’s very much like a continental meal… you get a bit of everything so you’ll always be satisfied. Individually our influences are: Zippy – My main genre influence is rhythm & blues and my people
of influence are Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Cozy Powell (Rainbow/ Styx) Mike – John Entwhistle (The Who), Matt Freeman (Rancid), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) Tom – For me it would be rock/ jazz & metal and cake and for artists I would probably say Jamie Cullum, Tim Minchin (as his piano playing is exceptional) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) Matt – I’m personally influenced by blues / classic & hard rock, my artist influence would have to be Gary Moore, Joe Satriani and Joe Perry (Aerosmith) Sean – I’m very much the same as Matt in my influences with hard / classic & blues rock, my main artist influences would definitely be Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and I say this for the whole band when I say that ruling it down to only 3 to keep it short and sweet was an absolute nightmare! There are so many influences of legends from all eras. Biggest gig/ proudest moment to date? We played the Robin in Bilston in 2019 this was before Sean & Mike were in the band, also our EP’s have been downloaded in over 15 countries. What does the future hold for The Mojo City Rebels? We have plans for an album - we would like to expand our fanbase from just the UK and conquer as many continents as possible, the sky is the limit as far as we can see. We’ve gained a lot of traction in 2021 even with the dreaded Covid-19 locking the country down, but since live music has returned we’ve hit the ground running with a full head of steam and we aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: DAMIAN JOHN
MIKe MANGINI - DReam thEater
Progressive music titans Dream Theater mark their return this year with the release of their eagerly anticipated 15th studio album ‘A View From The Top’. The group’s latest offering is the band’s first album since ‘Black Clouds and Silver Linings’ to feature fewer than nine tracks. It’s a seven-track album spanning 70 mins. Subsequently, the title track itself is an impressive 20 mins long. In that way, it makes you think of those classic progressive rock albums of the seventies like ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ or ‘Close to the Edge’ by Yes, which were predominantly made up of large development based musical pieces. Like many artists, Dream Theater were in the middle of a global tour when the pandemic struck, side-lining the band over the last eighteen months. This period of downtime helped to catalyse the band’s new album, although drummer Mike Mangini has some strong feelings on how the lockdown impacted the artist. “It felt like somebody pretty much raped my soul, and not only took a large part of my life away but took the lives of most of the people in this world, and they took it by force,” said Mike. “When you get forced into things, there’s nothing worse and nothing that makes you want to fight twice as hard back - it’s just debilitating. We probably had three continents of touring taken away from us. We had put a lot of work into that show.” Dream Theater took a slightly different approach with their creative process during ‘A View From The Top’. “As for my time in the band, this was the first one that was 100% five people contributing, chiming in on everything,” explains Mangini. “As far as the music is concerned, when you have five
people able to chime in on absolutely anything and everything, it develops a filter. And when you have a filter, nothing weak can get through. In other words, the filter prevents [just] anything from making the final cut that someone wants to put on.” By and large, the composition of the album came together organically. “We went in after discussing different approaches to this album,” said Mangini. “We just walked in that room saying let’s go play music, let’s go play our instruments. And someone plays something, and someone else likes it. Let’s go with the flow and develop it.” However, the title track itself was intended to be a centrepiece on the album. “I will say with the title track, we did intend to stretch that one,” confirms Mike. From the drummer’s perspective, there is one track that he is particularly proud of on the new Dream Theater album, that being ‘Answering the Call’. “It’s the first time that people can hear all of my step pedals and my different high hats. I’ve been doing this since I joined the band, but you can’t really hear it on the other albums - but you can hear it on this album. I’m simply proud that it’s able to be heard and that people can finally hear what I’m doing back there in between all the notes. And so that’s so important to me,” explains Mangini. “However, there are sections in ‘A View From The Top of The World’ where I get to use my polyrhythmic skills that I’ve not pushed as far as this. So, that’s personal for me because it’s about communicating my soul to people through the album.” The band’s latest offering also happens to be their first album recorded at the newly developed Dream Theater HQ. Speaking of the benefit of the band’s new studio, Mangini states that: “It’s comforting to have all of your
MIKe MANGINI - DReam thEater
“We probably had three continents of touring taken away from us. We had put a lot of work into that show.”
WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: RAYON RICHARDS stuff in one space. And to go to a place where you really get to know the room and get to know the routine - it just feels very comfortable. So, you can spend your time being completely productive. You’re not wasting your time trying to get gear that you wish you had there because you couldn’t carry everything into the studio or where you’re going to eat in all these new places - and what time you’re going to get there and where to park - any of that stuff. It’s just comforting to have everything there.” As the old saying goes, there is no place like home. There is continuity and flow to the new Dream Theater album. It’s the kind of album you listen to from start to finish without interruption, rather than selecting tracks. However, at present, the band wouldn’t consider playing the release in its entirety but rather performing key compositions from the album. Speaking on the topic, Mangini said that: “It’s a matter of picking particular pieces from the album because the catalogue is so deep that we realise fans have their favourites.” Mike Mangini joined Dream Theater back in 2010 following the departure of Mike Portnoy. But when on tour, how does Mike approach performing Portnoy’s drum parts? “I keep it as close to the original as possible,” confirms Mangini. “When I go back to the older material, I operate under some boundaries. First of all, nobody can sound like anybody else. So, I accept that; I don’t worry about it because I can’t do anything about it. The next thing is that no matter what I play, no matter what anyone plays, it will never satisfy a small group of people. So, I accept that right out of the gate no matter what. It’s okay, whatever, and it doesn’t affect me. There’s not only nothing I can do about it, but I don’t even care. The next thing is that I have to address that the band is used to hearing the parts played a certain way for a couple
of decades. I can’t change what they’re used to, so I’ve got to stick to it there. The fans are used to it - if I change too much, they literally will say well that’s wrong, or you can’t play it, or you don’t play it. It’s all these boundaries that literally leave so little room for me, that I have to accept that and say well this is my job to go and play that and stay within these boundaries. So that’s my approach. I’m just trying to respect things that are out of my control, that’s all.” Dream Theater will be returning to the UK for a select number of dates in April 2022. But have the band thought about how their setlist might look this time around? “We finished it - we were ready to go. We never rehearsed, but our setlist was set. And so, we all learned that” confirms Mangini. “The way that our production has evolved since my era is that we have evolved very technically. Once you do certain work with that kind of production, it’s a bit less work the next time to a point. But then there’s still other work that is massively time-consuming, that has to be done every tour with respect to the actual production. It’s basically all about video - so it’s a massive undertaking. But the bottom line is that set was set, and we learned the songs for it. So, we already know what we’re going to play.” Before you know it, Dream Theater will be back on our UK shores. The group will perform at Belfast SSE Arena (Wednesday 20th April), Newcastle Utilita Arena (Thursday 21st April) before wrapping up their UK run at the London SSE Arena Wembley (Saturday 23rd April). For further details and ticket information, head to www.dreamtheater.net. ‘A View From The Top of the World’ by Dream Theater is out now via InsideOutMusic.
HRH GOTH - AUGER / ALL my thorns / deadfIlmstar / Drownd / lord of the lost / the webb / Jayce lewis / in isolation
EEDS L Y M E D O2 ACA EMBER 2021 EPT 11 / 12 S
HRH GOTH - NOVUS / fIelds of the nephilim / massive ego / witch of the east / red sun revival / seething akira / st lucifer / my dying bride
Anton kabenen -beast in black
BEAST IN BLACK
Beast In Black have returned with their third album “Dark Connection” which is an exploration of the bands evolving sound and Anton Kabanen’s writing style. HRH Mag was able to grab some time with gutarist and vocalist Anton in a rare gap from his busy schedule. With the new album Dark Connection, how far do you think it evolves from the first two albums, “Berserker” and “From Hell With Love”? Material-wise, I don’t think it’s that different, just a little expanded version of the Beast In Black trademark style. It’s a bit heavier, but at the same time, more keyboards as well, but you still recognize it easily as our style, and there’s the same type of sense of melody, chord progressions, the drum beats and arrangement, everything is recognizable as our style, but just enough of the freshness in it. It feels like there are a lot more keyboards on this album than the last two. Was there a lot more attention to that this time? Yeah, there are a lot of keyboards there, it’s just what the songs needed. When the album is under making, it’s never like, okay, let’s make an album that has so many keyboards or so much of something, you just have to ease into each song as an individual and do it according to that, trust your creative instincts and your subjective view when it comes to art. Do you think that fans often don’t get that concept or inspiration you wrote with and that they openly interpret how they hear the music? Yeah, I don’t mind if someone’s interpretation is way off from what I meant with the song because that’s the point of art, everyone has the right to have their own interpretation. I still believe that any piece of art should be able to stand on its own, no matter if the viewer doesn’t know anything about it. If the art itself speaks to the person, it means that there’s some worthy content in it. When it comes to Dark Connection, has it been written for a long time, or did you develop some of this during the covid situation? Most of the stuff was written before 2020. The lyrics are the next thing and those... I wrote in 2020. It took maybe half a year, it’s my Achilles heel, so to speak. It helps with having an amazing vocalist like Yannis. Do you think he’s grown from the first album to this one working with you? Yeah, he’s even more of an insane perfectionist like me than in the
beginning, so in that sense, he’s grown. It took more time to get everything done, vocal recordingwise and editing-wise because we both hear the same things when we record the takes. We don’t even have to explain to each other what was bad or what was good in some takes. We see eye-to-eye 99.9% of the time. With the pandemic, we had more time. If anything bothered us in the vocals, any take, any syllable, we didn’t stop until it was all there. He doesn’t care if we have to record some takes a hundred times, he will do it. He’s also very musical, so that helps, it’s not just being a singer. That helps to work together in the studio, he understands the context as well, not just his own voice, but the context where his voice is going to be, so it helps me with that. With the album coming out shortly, is there any concern with the covid situation and about not being able to tour with the album? I think we will be quite optimistic about it. The plan is to squeeze everything out from Dark Connection to tour, two, three or even four years. Like heavy, massive world, worldwide touring. That is the plan. One last question for you, what do you have to say to the fans that have already found Beast In Black and the new ones that will be coming along, finding you with the new album? I hope the existing fans can appreciate the new things that they will find in us and that they understand that Beast In Black is the kind of a band that always tries to recreate its own skin a little bit to keep fresh. For new fans, I hope that they will be instantly hooked into any of the songs and hopefully become familiar with the first two albums. Until we tour close to your hometown, home cities are home countries, I hope everyone takes care of themselves, their family and friends, and when we come to do the shows, just be there and enjoy the music and the smiling band! WORDS AND LIVE PHOTO: DIANE WEBB
gARY MOAT - burnt out wreck
BURNT OUT WRECK Gary Moat’s Burnt Out Wreck are no strangers to the HRH family, and join us again in Sheffield for HRH Sleaze in August 2022. We grabbed a little of Gary’s time to catch up and find out what’s happening with the band and what he thinks of the HRH universe… Good afternoon, how are Burnt Out Wreck today? Hi - we are all very much alive and kicking - raring to get back to being a band again, it’s been too long man! Tell us a little about the band’s history – the good, the bad, and the ugly… Well it all started back in 2017 when the first album “Swallow” came out and we went out playing festivals and supports up and down the UK for two years non stop. We then went in to record the second album “This Is Hell” in April 2019 - it was released in October 2019 and was very well received around the world. We carried on playing live until February 2020 and we all know what happened then! How has your music developed since the early days of the band? To be honest not that much you know, I tend to have a one-track mind, in that it should all sound like it belongs together - like you know it’s BOW as soon as you hear it. Well, I hope it does anyway! You guys are on the same bill as the likes of Michael Monroe, Hardcore Superstar and Eric Martin of Mr Big next August at HRH Sleaze V in Sheffield. Who are you most looking forward to sharing the stage with at the festival? I never got to see Mr Big so looking forward to seeing Eric Martin what a voice - love him! And it’s just awesome to be part of these events, a great opportunity to see bands that you might not be that familiar with. You guys are no strangers to HRH festivals– what do you like most about the events and the fans? Yes - we have played at a few HRH events in Wales and were totally
blown away at the reaction we received from the audience. It’s a very well run tight ship, start to finish, but the crowd make the event and it’s great to meet them for a chat throughout the day.
Lockdown obviously had a negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? Well I can’t lie - it was and still is one bloody never-ending nightmare but you know we got a new lead guitarist in March 2020 his name is Richard Upson, who has started writing some tunes for the future. It wasn’t hard to keep things happening around the band things just come to us, there’s always something happening for us around the world - be it great rave reviews of our albums or endless airplay/interviews - it really is incredible. I would like to thank FGN Guitars for the amazing guitars they sent to us - check them out they’re great! We have also just had a second lead guitarist join the band and so look forward to getting out next year and playing live - it will give the band another great dynamic having two of them with very different styles, can’t wait! As most fans know, the Burnt Out Wreck brand is more than just the band – what future plans do you have for the drinks side of things? Come on that’s a trick question lol, to drink it of course! We have the cider, ale and beers plus spirits and you can get them online from the respective breweries Gwatkin and Lymestone - and there are some other things in the pipeline as ever! How is work progressing on your 3rd studio album? When might we expect to hear it? Very well thanks - we will be going into the studio October/ November with Steve Rispen on all duties as before and hopefully it will be out April 2022. It’s been a challenge but worth the wait! Thanks for catching up with me, today ..any final words? Hope to catch up with you all next year stay safe and have fun! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTO: SEAN LARKIN
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spike - The quireboys
WHATEVER TAKES YOUR FANCY It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 30 years since The Quireboys released their seminal album ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’. This was a release that propelled the Brit rockers to the top of the UK album charts and put the band on the map around the world. Recently, the group took a walk down memory lane by re-recording their debut album to celebrate this landmark achievement. Although things were going well in the Quireboys camp, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works and curtailed their touring plans. The group were on tour in the US as the gravity of the situation started to sink in. “We played the Whiskey in LA, and all of the shows were sold out in America and Australia, which was great,” explains frontman Spike. “We got to New Orleans, and it was like I don’t think we can carry on. So, we had to get an emergency flight out of Chicago, and we just came straight back.”
great feeling because then you get to go to the BBC bar and meet so many people that you never thought you would. It’s just a really strange feeling doing Top of the Pops for the first time because when you do that, you think that you’ve made it,” proclaims Spike. The Quireboys are currently on the road performing ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ in full. But even before this tour many of the tracks from the album have been a staple part of the band’s setlist over the years. “Even before this, that album was such an important album. It’s like when you go to see a band. I hate it when they play all new songs, and you don’t know them. So, we always added in songs off the new album, but you’ve got five or six hits off that album that you’ve got to play,” confirms Spike.
Known to be a party band, you would think that maybe quarantine life wouldn’t suit The Quireboys, but by his admittance, Spike said: “I actually really enjoyed it. It was the first time I’ve had off in twenty years.” He adds: “I really got into it. When it first started, I was doing a lot of shows for the NHS online.”
However, in true rock and roll fashion; how the band approaches the album can be different every night. “We are a rock’n’roll band. Our setlist is done two minutes before we go on stage,” jokes Spike. “It’s like whatever takes our fancy, with A Bit of What You Fancy.” Although there are a few tracks on the album which the band hasn’t played live for some time. “We hadn’t played Long Time Comin’ or Take Me Home for a long time. And Take Me Home is one of the most popular songs that we play on this current tour - everybody loves it,” explains Spike.
Lockdown life aside, things could have been very different for Spike. Growing up in Newcastle upon Tyne, his father had very different plans for the aspiring rock star. “Basically, when I was 16, he came into the Monkey Bar in Newcastle, which is the Market Tavern. And he said, come on, you are going to London, you are not staying here and just being a pisshead, you are going to go to London to get a job – and it wasn’t to be in a rock and roll band. But that’s what it was like back then,” explains Spike.
One thing is for sure, when the Quireboys are on tour you are guaranteed a party, whether it’s seven o’clock or otherwise. “I did a gig in Frome acoustically; it holds 800 people but there were 160 people there - that’s what we could have sitting at tables - and the owner came up to me, he said you know Spike, tonight we’ve made more money behind the bar with 160 people than we ever did for a sold-out show,” declares Spike. The Quireboys raise the bar in more ways than one.
Thankfully, as we now know, things turned out otherwise, and The Quireboys landed a major record deal with EMI. An exciting time for the band which allowed them the opportunity to record their debut album out in Los Angeles. The challenge during the recording of the album was getting the band out of the pub and into the studio. “When we did go in to do the album, it was really hard to get anybody out of The Rainbow to tell you the truth. Because we did it in Los Angeles in Hollywood, and it was the height of all the rock stuff out there, and we were the only English band,” said Spike. “When you take a bunch of young lads there and give them lots of money, it’s hard to get them in – what are you going to do?”
Although the band have been performing these classic tracks for over thirty years, they’ve not changed too much since their original conception. Spike said that: “They are the same really, apart from when I get to stop them and get the audience to sing along and do different things. You can’t do much with three chords mate,” he jokes. “We are just a pure English rock and roll band man, that’s what we started out to be in the vein of the Stones and Mott the Hoople and all the bands that we loved growing up.”
Reminiscing about recording in LA, Spike said that: “It was so much fun. We’d never really worked with top producers.” The Quireboys recorded their debut live in the studio. “I know that the takes that they used were the first takes that we had done,” confirms Spike. Although, the producers did steer the direction of one of the band’s biggest hits by insisting that the band include a chorus on the classic Seven O’Clock. “I’d never thought about that,” said Spike. “And that was one of our biggest songs, but it never used to have – ‘It’s seven o’clock time for a party’ [Spike sings] – it was never there until the album.” Upon its release ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ rocketed into Number 2 of the Official UK Album Charts - with Phil Collins holding the top spot - and garnered the band a slot on Top of the Pops. “Phil kept us off Number One,” said Spike. “We did Top of the Pops with him in the end.” Appearing on the legendary BBC TV show seemed like a confirmation of the band’s success. “The first time you do it is a
With the band’s touring schedule being on hold during the pandemic times, moving forward, they intend to complete the dates that were rescheduled due to COVID. “What you’ve got to realise is that we are fulfilling shows from two years ago,” said Spike. “We’re just going to try to fit all that in. There’s so much to do, and everything’s all over the place. It’s just not like one tour. You’ve got to fulfil the things that we had done because people have bought tickets for them two years ago. We didn’t want to cancel everything and move everything around yet again. I think some shows have been rescheduled four times. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out and then think about other stuff after that.” The 30th-anniversary edition of ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ is out now via Off Yer Rocka Recordings. The Quireboys are currently on tour across the UK, performing their legendary debut album in full. For tour dates and up to date ticket information, please visit www. thegigcartel.com WORDS & PHOTO: ADAM KENNEDY
WHEN RIVERS MEET
It’s been a rapid rise to the top for husband-and-wife duo Grace and Aaron Bond, otherwise known as When Rivers Meet. The group have been making waves during lockdown, which has been catalysed by their innovative approach to live streaming concerts. WRM’s weekly Saturday night online show helped to spread the band’s name across the globe. “The reach was massive,” explains Aaron. Grace adds that: “It literally just opened up the world. And because of that, we are touring the States next year.” Live streaming aside - When Rivers Meet have been productive during the pandemic times. During November 2020, the group released their critically acclaimed debut album ‘We Fly Free’. “The idea with the debut album was that we can’t gig because we were in lockdown. So, let’s make the most of our time and get in the studio,” explains Grace. But that’s not all, When Rivers Meet like to strike whilst the iron is hot, and the pair will be releasing their sophomore album ‘Saving Grace’ before the end of 2021. “We released ‘We Fly Free’ on the 20th of November. We started writing in December for the next one, and we went back in the studio in April. We were there for three and a half months,” says Grace. The British
blues/rock outfit are very much in demand at present, which was part of the reason why the band chose to release two albums in quick succession. “Next year, we cannot see a slot when we’re going to be able to record,” concludes Grace. As a husband-and-wife duo, how does When Rivers Meet approach songwriting? “It took us a long time to work out how to do it because to start with, we literally just fought. We just argued over everything,” said Grace. “Normally Aaron would do the lyrics to give to me. I would do my bit, then we come together and change it. We are able to work together for that bit of putting it together and the general idea, but most of the time, we have to do it apart - that’s how it works.” When writing songs, the pair have a yardstick to measure how they feel about their creation. “If we write a new song that we like, it feels like that’s the only song I ever want to play on stage again, and the only one I can think about,” concludes Grace. To record two albums during the pandemic introduced its own challenges in terms of restrictions. “When we recorded ‘We Fly Free’ the studio time had to be put back because we were completely locked down”.
when rivers meet
“Then when the restrictions lifted, we went in and recorded it,” said Aaron. Thankfully, the band were able to form a bubble with producer Adam Bowers, who also performed on the album. “We record with our producer Adam at his house, and he also plays - drums, bass, and keys. So, it’s literally only the three of us that we need to be there. We were able to keep a real tight little unit,” clarifies Grace. “A lot of other bands, where they need to go in and bring in multiple musicians, producers and engineers - we didn’t have that issue. We were pretty lucky.” The group’s hard work paid off when they picked up not one but four awards at this year’s UK Blues Awards including ‘Blues Band of the Year’, ‘Blues Album of the Year’ for ‘We Fly Free’, ‘Emerging Blues Artist of the Year’ and ‘Most Inspirational Online Performance of the Year’. Nice additions to the band’s evergrowing trophy cabinet perhaps you will agree? Speaking about their unprecedented win Aaron said: “We were just blown away just to be nominated, let alone win the awards.” The group faced some stiff competition in each category. “We didn’t think we would stand a chance to be honest,” he adds.
“We love the classic rock sound, and the rock sound of the blues that’s coming through. So we wanted a more upbeat rocky sound for this next album”
Part of the secret of the band’s success has been their loyal fan community otherwise known as ‘The Rapids’. “We had been plugging away during the live streams,” said Grace. “That support really got behind us into the awards as well. It was a lot of good timing for us - and we were really lucky. There were some amazing people that had been on the circuit for such a long time.” With ‘We Fly Free’ only just in the band’s rear-view mirror, WRM is now turning their attention to their sophomore album ‘Saving Grace’. You will notice that the album title itself features the name of one half of the duo, although the band insist that this was a happy accident. “We were looking for a name for the album,” explains Aaron. “We literally went through all the song titles, and none of them quite fit. Then we were just talking generally about music, and I said - well, music has literally been our saving grace.” And there you have it; the album title was born. With the band’s mantelpiece decorated with awards, the pressure was on to follow up on the success of their debut. “There was a pressure to be honest, because with the first album, we put it out for critique. And we’ve never done that before with music. We were really hoping that people would like it as much as we did, which, luckily, I think they have,” explains Aaron. “We’ve got to make this next album as good if not, better.” The band pushed themselves with ‘Saving Grace’ to put forth a slightly different sound than on their debut. “We love the classic rock sound, and the rock sound of the blues that’s coming through. So, we wanted a more upbeat rocky sound for this next album,” said Aaron. When Rivers Meet’s touring plans was also in mind at the time. “I think we had in mind that we would be able to tour this album, and we were starting to hype up that we’ve got our headline tour booked,” confirms Grace. “We were like, we’re going to be taking this on the road, what do we want to play?” With such a meteoric rise in a short space of time perhaps, this much success would be a lot to process for anyone let alone for Grace and Aaron Bond. “We would be lying if we said we haven’t been overwhelmed, not by what’s happening, because this is what we’ve wanted forever, but there’s the expectation that we’re going to be great or that we’re going to be able to do this or the other,” said Grace. “But at the same point, we just try to remember that we are totally living our dream.” When Rivers Meet’s new album “Saving Grace” is released November 19 via www.whenriversmeet.co.uk, and the band tour the UK from April 21 with special guest Troy Redfern more details at www.thegigcartel.com. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTOS: TERRY CROUCH / JON STURDY
STEVE HOWE - YES
Steve Howe - Leading The Quest When you hear a phrase like ‘The Quest’, it sounds like it could be the title of a Hollywood blockbuster movie. It immediately conjures up images of dramatic landscapes, castles and fortresses, mythical creatures, and arduous battles - but I digress. The phrase in question is the title of the new album by progressive rock heavyweights Yes. ‘The Quest’ marks Yes’ first new studio album since ‘Heaven & Earth’ in 2014. The album produced by Steve Howe is also the first to feature Billy Sherwood since ‘The Ladder’ in 1999. Although there has been an appetite to record within the group’s current line-up, the benefit of time has allowed for a better result. “A lot of times, even before the last album, people wanted to jump in and get an album made. I was the one going, no - we haven’t got material yet. So, this one did give us that limitless time - sort of development periods. Where a lot of albums get rushed at the end because there’s a tour, but there wasn’t a tour, so we had a nice big window to work on it,” explains Howe. The unplanned downtime brought about by the pandemic was somewhat of a double-edged sword for Yes. “I suppose the first couple of months were the toughest when we realised that touring had stopped - so that was depressing and very complicated. Financially disastrous and all those kinds of things,” explains Howe. “I suppose part of the joy is because we secretly got on with ‘The Quest’ and started recording, that gave us a sense of purpose that we didn’t have before that. So really, recording and songwriting have become the replacement for all that energy that we used to put into touring.” This downtime also allowed Steve Howe to complete and release ‘Homebrew 7’, an album marking the 25th anniversary of the guitar legend’s first album in his Homebrew Collection. In terms of his latest release, Howe said that: “These were tracks that bypassed getting selected for solo or even developed for group. I could see them growing.” Steve continues by saying that: “I think it’s not a solo album in the true sense, other than everything was written like it is for Homebrew generally.” Aside from their new release and solo projects, Yes will be turning back the
clocks when they return to the road with a full UK tour during 2022. This time the prog-rock titans will be playing their seminal ‘Relayer’ album in its entirety. The album in question followed the departure of keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Reminiscing about that time, Howe declares: “I saw so many changes. When we got to ‘Relayer’, it was almost like each album we made seemed to be kind of a different thing. But then we looked at ‘Close to the Edge’ and saw that formatting of a twenty-minute piece, and then two tenminute pieces - was maybe a good shape. So, the album had that thought process that we weren’t going to look for ten songs; we were looking for a big development song. And then two other pieces that we thought were fine.” In terms of the sound on ‘Relayer’, Howe elaborates that: “There was a lot of chucking about and stuff happening and all those sound effects. We were doing more than playing music - like ‘Sgt Pepper’ by The Beatles or ‘Pet Sounds’ by The Beach Boys. When revolutions are made in records, people do new things. I think that from the Beatles onwards, and particularly I suppose with ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt Pepper’ - that was a revolution. And basically, that’s the kind of thing we were into when we did ‘Relayer’.” The group’s new album title indicates the current thinking within the Yes camp. “The Quest sounds like not an unknown destination, but it is like an accumulation of things you want to achieve all at once. Some sort of realisation that you’ve reached somewhere,” explains Steve. “I think where Yes has reached right now is a new place - it isn’t trying to establish what we had. It’s trying to establish from the framework of what we’ve learned. It’s trying to establish something quite new. And I think that gives us an immense amount of freedom and allows the skills and talents that we have developed to come through.” However, for fans of the progressive rock legends ‘The Quest’ if, you chose to follow it would be to visit their nearest concert hall. The progressive rock legends will tour the UK during May/June of 2022, where they will be performing the ‘Relayer’ album in full, as well as classic cuts. For further details and ticket information, visit www.yesworld.com. Both ‘The Quest’ by Yes and ‘Homebrew 7’ by Steve Howe are out now. WORDS AND PHOTOS: ADAM KENNEDY
Jimmie vaughan When it comes to guitar legends, perhaps they don’t get much bigger than Jimmie Vaughan. The artist is presently celebrating his 70th birthday with the release of a new box set titled ‘The Jimmie Vaughan Story’. The package traces the Texas blues man’s life in music through his work with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, his album with brother Stevie Ray Vaughan along with his countless collaborations with some of the biggest names in the game. Jimmie Vaughan famously opened for Jimi Hendrix in 1969, and he still has a prized souvenir from that evening. “It was at SMU in Dallas, which is a college that has an auditorium. My band was The Chessmen, and we opened for Jimi Hendrix. It was a Saturday, and they broke their wah wah pedal. So, they just borrowed mine and said here, can we borrow yours? I’ll give you 50 bucks for it, and you can go and buy a new one on Monday. But I still have the wah wah pedal that he gave me – I have it on my mantle.” Jimmie adds: “Just imagine being a kid, and being 15 years old and opening for Hendrix, and then getting to meet Hendrix and The Experience – it was amazing.” Blues is very much part of the fabric of Texas. Drawing from his tenure with Storm, the artist’s latest release features a cover of “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” by one of the state’s legendary guitarists – the late great Freddie King. “One of the first things that I learned was trying to copy ‘Hideway’ by Freddie King. My parents liked it; everybody liked it. He was on all of the radio stations around us,” explains Jimmie. “As far as a guitarist goes, he was hugely influential to everyone.” One of the venues that became integral for Vaughan’s blues group - The Fabulous Thunderbirds - is the legendary Antone’s Nightclub in Austin, Texas. “We were playing the blues before Antone’s opened,” explains Vaughan. “It ended up that we were the house band for a lot of those years.” With legends such as Jimmy Rogers and Albert Collins passing through the doors, Antone’s was a great place to be. “We got to learn, first hand from these guys ourselves,” he says. ‘The Jimmie Vaughan Story’ features tracks that he recorded with his brother Stevie Ray Vaughan as part of their ‘Family Style’ album. Reminiscing about life in the Vaughan household, Jimmie said: “My dad would have somebody come over to the house. And he would say, okay boys, go and get your guitars and play a tune for our guests. So, I would get my guitar. At first, Stevie would get his little toy guitar, and we would play something for the people. They would say, well, that’s really good boys, maybe someday you can make a record together.” Their ambition to record together was realised by the Vaughan Brothers many years later. “When we made the record, it took three or four years because everybody was on tour. Everybody was busy with their own career, and Stevie was smoking - he was really popular and on tour everywhere. And so, the biggest problem was getting together and saying, okay, we’re going to go do it,” confirms Vaughan. The release of ‘Family Style’ in 1990 would be SRV’s last recordings before he very tragically passed. “I didn’t want to use my band, and he didn’t want to use his band. We wanted to use different people because we didn’t want to have to pick who would get to play on the album,” explains Jimmie. “Nile Rogers produced it, and he actually played on the record too. So, we went for it in a new way, which we weren’t used to doing. We finished the record, and then they mixed it. And we went to Alpine Valley, and that’s where Stevie got killed. So, Stevie got killed before the album came out.” The track “D/FW” from The Vaughan Brothers ‘Family Style’ album went on to win a Grammy. “It was a real bittersweet thing,” explains Jimmie. “I think we would have gone on tour, and we would have probably made more records if it hadn’t happened the way it did.”
JIMMIE VAUGHAN STILL GOT THE BLUES?
Presently, Jimmie Vaughan has been touring the US alongside Eric Clapton. Looking at the remainder of this year and beyond, he states that: “I’m starting to write songs for my new album.” Something to look forward to for fans of Texas blues. To find out more about the artist’s life in music, “The Jimmie Vaughan Story” features over six hours of music and a book featuring Vaughan’s life story told in his own words. The release is out now via Last Music Co. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: TODD V WOLFSON
THE eDITOR’S DOZeN
19 Marillion Script For A Jesters Tear Having finally settled into a stable lineup (at least long enough to record a full album!) the proggers from Aylesbury released their first album under their EMI record deal – and wow what an album it is. What it may lack in virtuosity it makes up for by a long way in atmosphere, passion and grandiose storytelling that only Fish-era Marillion could deliver. They captured an audience way beyond the progrock crowd, helped in no small part by Fish’s theatrics, Rothery’s searing guitar solos and one of the most gorgeous album covers of the era. The patch covered denim jacket brigade lapped up Marillions more accessible brand of prog, with Forgotten Sons being a perfect example of – musically – why. Although it’s successor Fugazi didn’t quite live up to commercial expectations, the scene had been set for the inevitable string of hit singles just a few years later.
ZZ Top - Eliminator Just missing out to Marillion’s Script for a Jester’s Tear for my favourite album of 1983 – and it couldn’t be more different! A trio from Texas heavying up blues rock and making it commercial with the amazing videos for MTV is a far cry from English public school lads making prog rock. But this is the beauty of rock and metal – the variety is almost endless, and you can like as many (or as few…) sub-genres as you wish – nobody (should) be judging. There isn’t a filler on Eliminator – tracks such as Gimme All Your Lovin’, Legs and Sharp Dressed Man may have been the public face of ZZ Top in 1983 but it’s album cuts like Got Me Under Pressure, I Need You Tonight and If I Could Only Flag Her Down that make this an abolsute stand out record… and I haven’t even mentioned the track that got me into this record in the first place – the sublime TV Dinners.
Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind Although overall I prefer Iron Maiden’s previous album – The Number of The Beast – this collection is still very strong and was the first to feature Nicko McBrain on drums. The album hit number three in the UK, cementing the band’s dominance at the top of the NWOBHM. Legendary producer Martin Birch took the controls for Maiden for the third time, with a flawless display. Tracks such as Where Eagles Dare and To Tame a Land are the more “proggy” tracks here, with The Trooper and Flight of Icarus being the cuts that made the singles charts at numbers 12 and 11 respectively in the UK. It would be the following year’s Powerslave however that would really cement my admiration for the band and become my favourite Maiden album of all. I wonder if my brother Tom still has his huge Maiden poster safe somewhere?!
Dio - Holy Diver When it comes to legends in the heavy metal genre, they come no bigger than Ronnie James Dio. The voice that propelled Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow to prominence, and having replaced Ozzy Osbourne – with greater effect than perhaps many had expected - in Black Sabbath in 1980 Ronnie had already cemented his place in rock history. Holy Diver would take that legend status and encrust it with gold (at the foot of the rainbow…) – songs like Rainbow in The Dark, Don’t Talk To Strangers and the title track are some of my favourite tracks of all time. Perfect mixes of heavy metal, un-rivalled vocals and a tinge of prog storytelling make for some of the best examples of heavy metal of all time. Holy Diver’s successor The Last In Line was another incredible album, but Sacred Heart didn’t quite hit the same heights but it didn’t really matter, Ronnie was a confirmed as a legend already.
Yes - 90125 I have to come clean and say that I’m not the biggest fan of Yes. I own a few vinyls and those covers are gorgeous of course – Roger Dean take a bow – but ironically it’s one of the least “arty” covers that adorns my favourite Yes album (I can hear the cries of derision from hardcore prog fans everywhere) which is 90125. The obvious reason may be the huge song that everyone knows – Owner of a Lonely Heart – but that’s not the case. Although that is a brilliant track, it’s actually City Of Love that is my favourite track here. The album was originally going to be released by Cinema, consisting of Yes alumni Chris Squire, Tony Kaye and Alan White working with producer Trevor Horn (Buggles anyone?) but when Jon Anderson joined the project it morphed into a new Yes collection. It’s a very modern sounding record, and like Genesis release of the same year blends the old and new to (almost) perfection.
Ozzy Osbourne Bark at The Moon The third solo studio album from the iconic ex-Sabbath frontman and the first to feature Jake E Lee on guitar duties. Jake would go on to record 1986’s The Ultimate Sin with Ozzy before finding critical acclaim with a particular favourite of mine, the band Badlands. Ozzy and Jake were joined by Tommy Aldridge on drums, Bob Daisley on bass and Don Airey on keyboards. A quirk of timing meant that the video for the title track would feature a different drummer – namely Carmine Appice – who would briefly join the band but soon leave to be replaced by his predecessor after Ozzy and Appice were no longer able to get on. The album itself is a decent slab of metal although a more commercial route was taken, with tracks like So Tired being a bit lightweight for some fans. The title track steals the show though - propelling the album to number 24 in the UK chart - and is still a staple of rock radio around the world.
PICKS OF 1983
96 Black Sabbath - Born Again A very strange album - the only Sabs record to feature Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan. In a now-legendary anecdote, it seems Gillan agreed to join Sabbath (to replace Ronnie James Dio) after a boozy night out in Oxford, with Iommi even having considered the likes of David Coverdale, Robert Plant and bizarrely Michael Bolton. It really is a very odd listen, as you would expect a weird hybrid of Purple and Sabbath. It does though kind of work in places, but the production values are little lacking. This might have been because it was produced by the band themselves, rather than a ‘name’ producer. The album also saw a farewell to drummer Bill Ward and the last recording with Geezer Butler for almost a decade. The Black Sabbath name certainly helped the album reach number four in the UK, with there being no huge stand out tracks although Zero the Hero is a stunning track that has more than stood the test of time.
Def Leppard - Pyromania Gunter gleiben glauchen globen. Perhaps one of the most iconic intros to a rock song ever. According to drummer Rick Allen it was producer Mutt Lange’s alternative to the traditional count-in of 1,2,3,4 which he was simply bored of! This is the third album from the Sheffield band and the forerunner to one of the biggest albums in rock history, Hysteria, which would follow 4 years later. There are hints of the huge success to come – Photograph is a sensational rock track with just enough commercial appeal to get into the headphones of rock and more pop-oriented fans alike. Rock of Ages (with the aforementioned intro) is an unmissable signpost of things to come, whereas Stagefright and Billy’s Got A Gun hark back to their more stripped back first 2 albums. The US really took to Def Leppard first, to their credit – Pyromania hit number 2 in the US Billboard Chart, and ‘only’ number 18 here in the UK.
Genesis - Genesis This is the self-titled fourth album from the band as a three-piece (Collins, Banks, Rutherford) and their 12th of their long career. Often known as “Shapes” due to its very distinctive yellow shapes on the cover, this was my introduction to Genesis, and remains my firm favourite. I like parts of Invisible Touch – its successor, but it’s too commercial for me. The ‘70s output is great for prog rock purists – and there are a few highlights I could dig out, but this album stands out as perhaps the best of both worlds. The structure and power of “Mama”, the epicness of Home by the Sea (both parts!) are just incredible and I’ll never get tired of listening to them. The most popular track (by Spotify listens at least!) is the catchy That’s All – which blends major and minor keys to great effect. A brilliant record all round.
Magnum - The Eleventh Hour The fourth studio album, and one of my most cherished from Birmingham’s finest, Magnum. The majesty of tracks such as The Prize and The Great Disaster may not quite hit the heights of its predecessor Chase The Dragon or the stunning follow-up, and my favourite Magnum release, On a Storytellers Night – but there is plenty here to love. Vicious Companions is a gorgeous track and Hit and Run is a cracking straight-ahead rock tune. The album is self-produced due to a lack of label support, but it doesn’t detract from the music. No mention of Magnum albums is of course complete without due credit to the incredibly talented Rodney Matthews, who also designed the wonderful cover to previous album Chase The Dragon.
Metallica - Kill ‘Em All This is where it all started – the biggest metal band on the planet released their debut, and tracks such as Seek and Destroy and Whiplash would become legendary in their own right. I fully admit I was late to the ‘Tallica party, having been converted to the cause by the video to “One” five years later, but having seen them plenty of times in the flesh since I am dutybound to include this album even though I was more a ‘prog’ man in 1983 as you can probably tell from the other choices here – which kind of makes sense if you know how “One” sounds. One interesting footnote is that the 1988 reissue of Kill ‘Em All features the incredible cover of Diamond Head’s Am I Evil. It took me until 2021 to fully appreciate the track thanks to a live cover by one of my favourite up-and-coming bands, the mighty Ethyrfield.
Rainbow - Bent Out Of Shape The final Rainbow album (discounting Finyl Vinyl and the 1994 one-off ) saw the third outing for the Joe Lynn Turner fronted version of Rainbow. The choice cut here has to be Street of Dreams which is an AOR classic, but tracks such as the awesome Fire Dance and the sublime Anybody There would both be huge pointers to the utter brilliance that would emerge when Deep Purple - featuring Blackmore and Roger Glover reformed a year later and release the stunning Perfect Strangers. The album was well-received, reaching number 11 in the UK and number 34 in the US. The cover is a design from famed artist Storm Thorgerson whose credits also included Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kansas and many more.
TIME FOR THE BLUES WITH
JOE BONAMASSA page 50
joe bonamassa Presently, Joe Bonamassa can do no wrong. One of the most gifted guitarists on the planet is currently in demand for not only his astounding fretwork but for his production skills too. Alongside his co-producer Josh Smith the pair have turned out many chart-topping blues albums in recent times, including lockdown releases from both Joanna Connor and Joanne Shaw Taylor, to name but two - the latter of which recently reached #1 in the Billboard Blues Charts. Aside from his production endeavours, Bonamassa is getting ready to release his latest studio album ‘Time Clocks’ on October 29th. The virtuoso guitarist is somewhat of a road warrior, but with the pandemic raging across the globe, touring opportunities were limited. Subsequently, the artist turned his attention to other projects. “We did Royal Tea in January of 2020. I then produced Joanna Connor’s record before we headed on our ill-fated cancelled tour,” explains Joe. “So, we all got shut down.” With touring on hold, a whole raft of production opportunities arose for Joe. “We were going to start with Eric Gales, and his record got pushed back because we needed time to write it. We started writing it and wrote the record with Keb Mo and Tom Hambridge,” said Bonamassa. However, with no certainty as to when life on the road would return, the blues legend started to think about a new studio album. The rationale behind this decision was that if: “We’re going to be mired in semi-retirement, we might as well start thinking about a new solo record. Maybe if we’re given the privilege by the local magistrates to entertain folks again in front of a live audience, then we could have something ready for the fall. That’s how the whole thing really started.” explains Bonamassa. But trying to fit in a new studio album was challenging, with so much production work ongoing. “I committed to doing Jimmy Hall’s record as a producer,” declares Joe. “Once I finished Jimmy Hall’s record, I turned my attention to Time Clocks, which was a song that I forgot about, that I wrote for Royal Tea a year and a half ago.” But why did Joe leave the title track of the new album off his last release? “The reason why I forgot about the song was that our drummer broke his ankle, and we were forced to cancel the session - two days before the original session was supposed to happen,” confirms Joe. “The good news is when I started going through all my other stuff, I said - ah, T Clocks. What the hell is that?” And so, from the embers of Royal Tea came the beginnings of a new studio album. However, with Joe’s band members based in various parts of the United States; and his producer residing in Australia, the logistics of getting his tried and tested team together for the new album was somewhat challenging. “Kevin Shirley and I have done 35 records together,” states Joe. “This was the first time we’ve not been in the same room.” Subsequently, the artist had to switch things up during the recording of Time Clocks. “We cut it as a three-piece in New York. We went home. I gave Kevin a whole bunch of guitar tracks. And the next thing I know, I have this record. And basically, Kevin was tasked to finish the whole thing without me because I couldn’t travel there, and he couldn’t travel here,” explains Joe. However, as a producer himself, does Joe have to reign in his production ideas to give way to Kevin Shirley? “When I produce records, I use his playbook,” confirms Bonamassa. “When I started making records on my own, I went to Kevin and said - listen, nothing changes in our dynamics, the same deal that we made in 2005. And that’s how it’s going to work.” The only difference this
time was that both Kevin and Joe would have to collaborate via the wonders of modern technology. “The Zoom calls were strange not having him in the room. But it was also advantageous for me. If I disagreed with something, I could just turn him off,” jokes Bonamassa. “It was an interesting way of working with him.” Some fans may notice personnel changes within the band on the album. “Anton [Fig] was the only constant one. Michael Rhodes was out on a medical for three months, he’s now just back with us,” confirms Joe. “Reese [Wynans] didn’t come up to New York because we’re still in pandemic hell - and travel-wise, the logistics of getting the organ up there.” Bonamassa adds that: “At the end of the day, that’s kind of why the personnel is changing. It wasn’t like I didn’t want Reese on my record. Of course, I want Reese on my record, but it just did not logistically work out given how we were trying to attempt this.” In the literature associated with ‘Time Clocks,’ it has been implied that ‘Joe mixes in a new musical flavour, and that’s progressive rock’. Maybe something that’s not previously been associated with the bluesman extraordinaire. Speaking about the genre in question, Bonamassa said that: “I’m a big fan of it. But am I a progrock artist? No.” As a musician, Bonamassa continues to push his craft within the blues world. “I do like to challenge myself. I feel like I do enjoy taking blues music into the fringe and seeing how much I can smash into the boundaries before it becomes not blues music,” said Joe. The first track to be released from ‘Time Clocks’ was the recent single “Notches”. This is a song that was co-written by Charlie Starr from Blackberry Smoke. Speaking about their collaboration Joe said that: “He’s a supreme gentleman of the highest order, and so talented in every single way. As a writer, as a singer, as a guitarist, as a bandleader and as a front guy. He’s one of those guys that makes it look easy.” The concept of time feels pertinent to the artist’s latest studio album. Bonamassa, along with a group of his friends including Eric Gales, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Jonny Lang refer to themselves as “The Class of ‘95”. “We were the kid’s playing the guitar in the 90s, but we’re almost fifty, and it is freaking me out,” explains Joe. “The idea is you have to be conscious of time because it doesn’t last forever. And that’s kind of what I explored metaphorically through song on this record.” There is a real flow and a continuity to the tracks on ‘Time Clocks’, but how does the artist intend to approach the album live? “I do believe one of our plans is we’re going to do a show where we play this whole thing start to finish - which we did with Royal Tea, and it was great,” said Joe. “It was a good experiment because it forced me to learn all the songs. I’ve never in my life learned all the songs on my record. I cherry-pick the best ones and leave the other ones behind.” For the rest of the year, Bonamassa will be touring across the United States. “We have 32 shows on sale in the fall in the US, which will support the record. We will be honoured if we are given the privilege to play them - and my friend Josh Smith is joining the band this fall for a while on the second guitar, so that’s exciting,” confirms Joe. Despite this, UK fans do not despair; Joe Bonamassa will be crossing the Atlantic during Spring of 2022 for a select number of shows. Joe Bonamassa’s new album ‘Time Clocks’ is released by Provogue/ Mascot Label Group on October 29th and Joe tours the UK in April & May 2022, including two shows at the Royal Albert Hall – more details can be found at Joe’s website at www.jbonamassa.com. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: ELEANOR JANE
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OF MICE & MEN
Of Mice & Men have cemented their soundscape across the metalcore scene, demonstrated by their tremendous growth across the past decade. HRH Mag caught up with long-serving, lead vocalist Aaron to reflect on the band’s history, explore how life on the road with icons such as Linkin Park and Five Finger Death Punch encouraged their development, as well as the creative process behind their upcoming album Echo. Following a year and half of new music from this four-piece, including exclusive Twitch demos to an EP trilogy - we are finally given the conclusion release called Echo this December. Lockdown certainly didn’t slow these legends down as they flexed their creative muscles and entwined their raw emotions to produce Timeless and Bloom - the first two EPs showcasing the evolvement during this time. The entire Timeless EP had been heard by some very lucky listeners following Of Mice & Men’s Twitch account, where they performed live, raw, demo versions of their process. The artwork for Echo - which is also in theme with the video for Fighting Gravity, as well as the Timeless and Bloom releases - was created by Derek Hess. Known by the Of Mice & Men quartet from his previous work with other bands as a vintage scene artist who specialised in show flyers, album covers and t-shirts “back-in-the-day”. Aaron expressed that “he is great at creating emotive imagery which for us, knowing
how emotive the songs were for us, we wanted to create art that wasn’t just an album cover. Something you can get lost in listening to the soundtrack of that artwork.” Derek’s delicate hand drawings for this layered bundle release are certainly masterpieces in their own right. Over the last ten years, these Californian rockers have been on a total rock ’n’ roll-a-coaster. Reflecting on one particular tour with Linkin Park that put their name on the music map, Aaron said “Here’s a story. It was one of the first few shows of the tour, they already told us when we showed up that we could use 70% of their lighting and video rig - it was like, what?! Theoretically, they could tell us you get zero of it! So we played the first couple of shows and I remember Mike was talking to us about how it was kind of dark because we didn’t have a spotter. If you ever see a band in an arena you have to hire those people! They don’t just come with the venue! But after a few shows, they just said we will take care of it and by the end of the tour we must have been covered by about 85% of their video, covering multiple spotters for us just to enhance our show. The tour sold out well in advance because you know – it’s Linkin Park! They didn’t have to do that, so that in itself teaches you a lot about how to treat people in general. It was really cool to see people like that at that level, giving a damn!” Furthermore, Aaron expressed a surreal moment that he holds very dear to his heart from the unbreakable friendship that blossomed from this experience. “When we were doing the Linkin Park tour about a third
of mice & men
”I was singing with Linkin Park, but I was just playing music with my friends - I could open my eyes and see like the most amount of people I’ve ever performed for!” of the way through it, Mike and Chester approached me and asked if I wanted to do a song and I was like - YES. PUT ME DOWN. I AM THERE. I used to sing with them in a medley that they would do. So, we did the tour in the UK and Europe but the tour in America got cancelled because Chester broke his leg playing basketball with our guitarist Phil in one of the professional training arenas.
then I could close my eyes and I could be 15 again singing in the garage singing with my friends. So having that experience at the same time is just something I will never forget.”
We ended up a few years later playing Rock in Rio in Vegas with Linkin Park and Metallica who were headlining and they [LP] just called me up and were like hey you’re doing this song with us right? So I was just like yeah, sure! It was almost surreal for three different reasons; the first was that before [the show] I met and had a conversation with Lars from Metallica standing on stage - that in itself is a surreal experience.
To coincide with the concept of this release, when asked something he wished he was told when first embarked on the Of Mice & Men crusade, Aaron responded with “Stop and smell the roses. It is so easy when you first start out and you’re on tour you think I need to do this and this, and for me personally, I spent a lot of years looking forward and not taking inventory of where I was at - because I was always looking at the next thing. But you do have these moments where you’re like damn - I wish I stopped and just enjoyed where I was. Now I feel I don’t try to plan for much.”
So for Rock in Rio I go up to do the song and I look out and it was like 65,000 people and that was a SUPER surreal moment, that’s a lot of people and that’s a lot of people that are very connected right now. There is something about music that can bring that many people together - that was just a moment in humanity, that many people getting along! That’s bigger than some cities and some cities don’t get along!
The beautiful part about this interview was the raw emotion Aaron expressed, talking about personal situations that still seems to be under the taboo umbrella. To be able to transpose grief, pain, anger, frustration and the feeling of being lost, and place that into a music form is certainly a talent. This album portrays all of these natural and normal emotions but in a classic Of Men & Men fashion – and I had the pleasure of reviewing it elsewhere in this issue.
And then I close my eyes and sing, and I was singing with Linkin Park but I was just playing music with my friends. So I could open my eyes and see like the most amount of people I’ve ever performed for and
WORDS: CHARL HOOPER
Taking time out from steering his band Electus to great things, frontman Russell Peake takes a flick through Amazon Prime to pick out four scorching rock docs – featuring Pink Floyd, Evanescence, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Steven Wilson. PINK FLOYD - “The Making of Dark Side of The Moon” During the early ‘70s glam & hard rock were taking off around the world - however, March 1st 1973 saw this band release one of, if not the most critically acclaimed albums of all time. Introducing & defining the phrase “Concept Album” to the ears of the world. Overnight, Pink Floyd became super megastars forever. The “Classic Album” series takes an in-depth view from each band member’s perspective & how each song was crafted, how the band implemented double-tracking, flanging & reverb guitar effects as well as how they applied the use of analogue synths in the recording sessions plus much more. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios over 2 sessions, you can’t help but appreciate the quality of what the band was creating at the time. An album that most music lovers possess, this documentary complements the physical album in the sense that you get an insight into the minds that created arguably the greatest album of all time, ergo, one of the most popular music documentaries of all time?
ROCK DOCS STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN - “Rise of a Texas Bluesman 1954 - 1983” It’s hard to believe It wasn’t until 1983 SRV & Double Trouble secured a record deal. After receiving much interest previously from labels, & not getting signed, the opportunity came for SRV to play the Montreux festival who caught the eye of none other than David Bowie - who brought Stevie on board to record on the classic “Let’s Dance” album. Even on that singles lead guitar break, it’s undeniably SRV making his mark. Bowie offered the tour support - however the record label thought there may be conflicts a month before the release of the debut album. Released in ’83, “Texas Flood” jettisoned a once thought dead genre back from the doldrums, & became one of the greatest debut blues albums ever released. At the age of 29 SRV illustrated what a developed musician he was, instantly becoming one of the greatest guitarists of all time. There’s plenty of clips in which to see his guitar mastery in action, & you can see with your own eyes how he owns every note he plays. Tragically history shows that by the end of the ‘80s he was becoming more popular than ever gaining “Rock Star” status, but 1990 brought a bitter end to the story when Stevie was taken from us in a tragic air accident. This is only a snippet, & the documentary covers his entire musical journey that catapulted him into legendary status. Must-see viewing for all music fans.
EVANESCENCE - “Embracing The Bitter Truth” Amy & the rest of the band contemplate “What’s to do” amidst a global pandemic when you’re supposed to start a world tour. The band originally planned to release their new album at the end of 2020, but covid put a stop to that - 4 songs were recorded by the time lockdown kicked in culminating with the release of their first single from the album “Wasted On You” in April 2020. However the band found innovative ways of recording the rest of the album & promotional videos throughout the year with Jen based in Germany during the pandemic. Of course they pulled it off with great success releasing the 5th album in March 2021 to critical acclaim. Amy speaks passionately about wanting real meaning & relevance lyrically to what’s going on around the world during this turbulent period, but also sharing a message of hope. It shows there is a fire in their bellies to get back out on the road doing what they do best, entertaining their fans & spreading the gospel of Evanescence throughout the world. An interesting insight into one the greatest bands of their genre during the recording process as well as giving us a chance to catch a glimpse of how a successful band has coped through the pandemic.
on PRIME STEVEN WILSON - “Home Invasion In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall” Originally released in 2018 this concert sees Steven performing suring the “To The Bone” tour. The show contains an epic performance of 20 plus songs from his catalogue including a couple of tunes from the Porcupine Tree era. The sound quality is A++ as you might expect, & though you may not think of this band as being a visual spectacle live, rest assured you won’t be disappointed. It’s easy to see that a lot of thought has gone into the visual aspects of the show from the classic background videos, dancers, lighting, & video projections to the netting at the front of stage - which looked amazing when I caught him live on this tour in Birmingham. It was interesting to compare if the recording captured the atmosphere & feel of attending the show. With a plethora of hits & virtuoso musicians, Ninet Tayeb, Alex Hutchings, Nick Beggs, Craig Blundell and Adam Holzman guarantee a sonic performance any lover of music can walk away from feeling satisfied & wanting more. The proof is all here…your ears will find themselves in auditory bliss from start to finish. Highlights are but a personal choice: “Home Invasion/Regret #9”, “Song of I”, & the infamous “The Raven That Refused to Sing ‘’ are just some examples as to why Steven is such a sought after fella for his skill set.
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NEKROMANT Swedish 3-piece Nekromant have already released 2 singles from their upcoming album “Temple of Haal” which is due out December 3rd. We spoke to drummer Joakim Olsson about the band, their fascinating background, stunning videos and their plans for the future. Good afternoon, how are Nekromant today? Good afternoon to you too good sir! Doing great thank you! Just a lazy Sunday at home, drinking coffee and listening to Fäbodjazz by Lars Gullin. Tell us a little about the band’s history? It started as a project between just Mattias and Adam somewhere back in time, around 2011. Those two have been playing together forever and it was just a natural way to continue writing music together I guess. They wrote and recorded a bunch of songs (none of which are available today I’m afraid) with some help from their friends, trying out different lineups and singers. I joined in around 2014 and it wasn’t until then that it was decided to leave the band as a trio, with Mattias handling the vocals. Before this project, he had not sung in any band. Up until this time, the band was also called “Serpent” and we released what we refer to as our first album in 2015 under that moniker. That album was, as you may or may not know, called “Nekromant”. Before our (by our count) second album “Snakes & Liars” in 2017, we decided on the name change and it’s been going on from there basically. Your new album “Temple of Haal” comes out on CD and vinyl on December 3rd. Tell us more about the album and how you approached the writing process? Everyone in the band grew up in a small village in Sweden called “Vargön”, which directly translates to “Wolf Island”. It’s not an island and there are no wolves, but someone must have thought it sounded cool way back when. The most recognizable features of this metropolis are the two mountains, “Halleberg” and “Hunneberg”, and the proximity to Sweden’s biggest lake “Vänern”, all of which have been the subject of local myths and stories for ages. This offered a huge amount of inspiration for the lyrics and overall feel of this album. “Haal” is an old name for “Halleberg” and is dated back to 1325. Mattias writes the vast majority of the music and all the lyrics. He often records some kind of demo in his home studio and then we work it out in our rehearsal space, deleting parts that don’t work and stretching the parts we like and so forth. We almost completely moved away from just jamming to come up with songs. We need to have a clear idea of structure and a melody, call it a hook if you like, and not just a cool riff that repeats 500 times. But don’t get us wrong, we do like the riff! When we have a bunch of songs that work well together and with a total length of an album, we record it! Talking of vinyl - the artwork looks stunning! Is vinyl your favourite format? Thank you! It’s made by a Swedish artist called Albin Sköld, a.k.a. “Illusive Illustration”. That guy’s a real pro. We wanted to go for something simple yet powerful and I think it worked out quite well in the end! Regarding vinyl, yes we like it! It’s most definitely our favourite physical format but I think most of our listening is done by streaming, seeing as it’s a bit more convenient you know. I wouldn’t consider myself a real vinyl-geek/collector, even though I own a couple of hundred records, so my partner would maybe disagree. That said, it’s quite an awesome feeling to be able to hold your own
music (and of course other great music as well) in your hands - and in that aspect, vinyl beats everything! Who are your biggest musical influences as a band? As a band, I would say we all have our roots in classic metal acts such as Black Sabbath (of course), Judas Priest, Rainbow, Mercyful Fate and so on, and then moving into a lot of Metallica, Slayer and Testament in our teenage years. We also, and Mattias especially, listen to a lot of black metal and I think that influence shines through quite a bit on this album, this referring to what I think is a bit more dark and atmospheric vibe than on the past records. Johan Lundsten, who shot and directed our last music video, his first spontaneous comment on the music was (paraphrasing): “The one who wrote this song must have been listening quite a lot to “Lawless Darkness” by Watain!“. And even though I wouldn’t consider this a conscious main influence on the album, that’s most definitely true! And we also really like the Swedish band Grand Magus! Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? For us, our goal with 2020 was to focus on writing and recording a new album and not be out playing so much, so the effect of the pandemic wasn’t that brutal on us as a band as it was to many others. We consider ourselves really lucky, people (and bands) have had, and do have, a really rough time through all this. During this time we haven’t been that active at all through social media, so we are really happy and grateful that people still seem to care and remember us now that we’re slowly stepping out of this hibernation! We’ve opened up here in the UK for live music and are – almost back to normal. How is the live scene in Sweden? That’s great to hear! In Sweden, the last restrictions were lifted on September 29th so it’s slowly moving back to normal, at least in that aspect. I’m glad to see that a lot of venues and festivals actually seem to have pulled through and are now booking bands like it’s 2019! We did our first show in almost two years a couple of weeks ago and it was totally awesome! We had almost forgotten how it felt playing in front of a bunch of sweaty, longhaired, battle vestequipped metal warriors! A humbling experience! The video for your recent single “Behind The Veil of Eyes” is spectacular – where was it filmed and did you have fun making it? Thank you! The mastermind behind the video is another pro, named Johan Lundsten. It was filmed by lake Vänern in our hometown and also in Johan’s studio in Stockholm. It was great fun of course! A Sunday in the woods lighting torches and a big ritual symbol on fire! I love going back to work on Monday after something like that and having the colleagues asking me what I’ve been up to during the weekend. What are your plans for 2022? Any big gigs or festivals lined up? We’re working on tour plans and gigs in general. Got some stuff in the pipeline, as they say! The plan is to play as much as possible. Hopefully, people will like the album so much that we’ll get a bunch of really fat offers from all the biggest festivals! Thanks for catching up with me today … any final words? Thank you and the readers for taking an interest in our band! Hopefully, we can swing by the UK in the not so distant future and play the new songs live for you. Until then, cheers and be sure to always rock hard and ride free! WORDS: TOBY WINCH
KOSMOGONIA Hailing from Greece, six-piece folk metallers Kosmogonia head to these shore for the very first time this December to rock the stage at HRH Vikings III. We managed to grab some of founder member Kostas Magalios’ valuable time to give us a low down on the band and their maiden trip to the UK. Good afternoon, how are Kosmogonia today? Hello! We’re doing great and we’re very happy to be with you! Tell us a little about the band’s history – although founded in 2015, you had big changes in 2017? Our band was founded in 2015 by me (Kostas Magalios) and Chris Drosos. At the beginning, the band played melodic thrash metal but in 2017 we decided to make a big change and start playing the genre that we feel more passionate about... folk melodic death metal! How does your music sound different to your previous lineup? Back when we played thrash metal everything was different, our sound, our mentality. We are very happy that we found the genre that suits us and that we love deeply, because we love to engage with our ancient history through music. Your videos are simply stunning – do you enjoy filming them and can we look forward to more of the same? Where are they filmed? We enjoy everything we do! Our video clips, our rehearsals, our photoshootings, our live performances. Every single thing we do has something to teach us and we have a great time while doing it! We are definitely preparing for new things which are going to be announced soon taking into consideration our progress and our desire to produce something of the highest quality possible! You guys are on the same bill as the likes of Ensiferum and Korpiklaani this December at HRH Vikings in the UK. Who are you most looking forward to sharing the stage with at the festival? Yes we are very excited that we’re going to be sharing the stage with all these great bands of our genre! We are truly eager to travel to the UK and
play. What’s happening, for us, is something extremely great and we are really looking forward to it!
Have any of you played the UK before? No it’s our first time travelling to the UK and that makes it even more special and exciting! We can’t wait to meet our UK fans and share our music with them. Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? The continuous lockdowns have definitely affected music and musicians in general but it’s an opportunity to work hard creating new music! We followed the creative approach. Are there any bands you guys can tell us about from your homeland that we should know about and check out? In Greece there are many worthwhile bands. The Greek metal stage is blooming and has made its presence noticeable outside Greece. We are not going to say names because we don’t want to be unfair to anyone. If someone is interested, they can look into our Greek metal scene. It will be worth it. What is your next release going to be and when can we expect to see and hear it? We are preparing our new music for quite some time. There is a lot of music material ready that we’re rehearsing. We may be able to have a surprise for people in the HRH Vikings Fest. We’re going to make announcements soon regarding this! Thanks for catching up with me, today ..any final words? We’d like to thank all those who support us, our fans and you that offer us a place in this wonderful event. We can’t wait to play in front of the UK metal enthusiasts! Until then, stay folk and stay metal!! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTO: VAGGELIS UPTEAM GKAGKASTATHIS
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“I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the big four play together at Sonsiphere in Switzerland in 2010 and it was just phenomenal”
Hey guys, I hope you are all enjoying seeing live music again! So I’m back with another ‘Redtank’s Guide To..’ and this one is a very special one for me. Welcome to Redtank’s guide to Thrash - Part 1! ! I have really struggled with how to do this guide and I have decided to split it up into a few parts. This first part of my guide will cover British thrash, I appreciate that most of you guys know about thrash so I thought that I would briefly cover the beginnings of the genre and of course I must touch on the big 4 too before I look at British thrash and give you my recommended albums. Thrash metal starting in the early 1980s and came from the structure and technicality of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) bands and the power, speed and aggression of hardcore punk. Fast percussive beats, loads of riffs and shredding guitar solos along with multiple tempo and time changes make up the thrash metal recipe along with that very distinctive guitar sound. For me, the sound of thrash metal can be summed up by the guitar sound on the Metallica track ‘Whiplash’ from their debut 1983 debut album ‘Kill Em All’. My introduction to thrash came in 1986, I was listening to the Friday Night Rock Show with Tommy Vance on Radio One with my tape recorder paused to record (back in the ‘80s there was no internet or Spotify and the only way to get new music without visiting the record store was to record them from the radio. You don’t know how good you have it now!!) While listening I was literally knocked off my feet when I heard ‘Criminally Insane’ by Slayer, I had never heard anything like it before - this was something so completely different to the stuff by Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Ozzy that I had been listening to! That was 35 years ago and I have been a massive thrash fan ever since. One of the standout things about thrash is the drive by
the bands to be the best musicians they can be with bands like Annihilator, Testament, Forbidden and Death Angel bringing out debut albums with absolutely stunning guitar work and stunning drumming talent (the original Death Angel drummer Andy Galeon was only 14 years old when they recorded their debut album ‘The Ultra-Violence’ in 1987.) Vocal styles in thrash metal generally combine the melodic high range singing (Joey Belladonna from Anthrax) and a more shouted style (Tom Araya from Slayer). Like I said before most of you will know some thrash bands and will definitely be aware of the ‘Big Four’ of thrash (I will just let you know, in case you are don’t know me or regularly listen to my radio show that I am a MASSIVE Metallica fan, but don’t worry this won’t be a Metallica bore article!) There is always some debate on this but known as the big four of thrash are Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax who released four genre-defining albums across 1986 and 1987, albums that are as good today as they were when they were released. I will look at doing something on the big four later but for now, here is the quick guide to the big four of thrash… So here we go: Dave Mustaine was in Metallica, but he drank too much, and they kicked him out and he formed Megadeth. Slayer really didn’t like religion and used to wear eyeliner, Anthrax wrote songs about comics and Stephen King novels. Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’, Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’, Megadeth’s ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying’ and Anthrax’s ‘Among the Living’ are in my opinion four of the best albums ever made and they are completely timeless, and I enjoy listening to them just as much now as I did 35 years ago. I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the big four play together at Sonsiphere in Switzerland in 2010 and it was just phenomenal even though I was up to my knees in mud all day!
redtaNKs guide to THRASH Before we get started on British thrash here are my playlist recommendations for the big four: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Metallica – Whiplash (Kill ‘Em’ All) Slayer – Epidemic (Reign in Blood) Megadeth – My Last Words (Peace Sells… But Whose Buying?) Anthrax – Caught in a Mosh (Among the Living) Metallica – The Outlaw Torn (Load) Slayer – Hell Awaits (Hell Awaits) Anthrax – Medusa (Spreading the Disease) Megadeth – Hangar 18 (Rust in Peace) Metallica – Halo on Fire (Hardwired… to Self-Destruct) Slayer – Dead Skin Mask (Season in the Abyss)
The reason I decided to cover British thrash in this guide first is that there are some absolutely world-class British thrash bands out there, and unfortunately they often do not get the credit that they deserve. Generally, thrash is thought to be an American originated genre but there were also early scenes in the UK, Germany, and Brazil as well as many other places around the world. In my later guides to thrash I will cover the US, German, and worldwide scenes but this first part of my thrash guide is dedicated to the British scene. As with many music genres, British bands produce some of the best albums out there and thrash metal is no different. I always mention that being old does have some benefits and I was lucky enough to see many brilliant British thrash bands live through the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are also some fantastic new bands out there and over the last few years we have seen new releases from some of the originators of British thrash like Onslaught, Acid Reign, Virus and Xentrix. So here are my album recommendations for British thrash and I have tried to cover both older and newer bands and a couple of lesserknown gems. As always, I have to state that these are my personal favourites, and I am in no way claiming that they are the best albums in this genre! Onslaught – In Search of Sanity (1989 London Records) Onslaught were formed in Bristol in 1982 and are part of the British big four of thrash along with Acid Reign, Xentrix and Sabbat. Apologies to Sabbat fans, I will not be including a Sabbat album in my recommendations. I love Sabbat and it was tough to leave them out of my album choices! Onslaught started as more of a hardcore band with their debut album ‘Power From Hell’ and them moved into a more thrash directing with their epic 1986 album ‘The Force’. Onslaught’s third album released in 1989 ‘In Search of Sanity’ is my all-time favourite British thrash album and, in my opinion, is nothing short of a masterpiece! Originally recorded with vocalist Sy Keeler, but London Records were not happy with the sound of the album, and it was then re-mixed, and vocals were completely re-recorded with Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett. The sound of the album is influenced by Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘And Justice, For All’ in terms of structure and sound, it has such a clean, crisp and precise production that just made it stand out above the bands previous releases. This is an album that you cannot help but play in its entirety as it is phenomenal from the first note to the very last. Every song has time changes and riffs galore - a full-on thrash fest. Guitarist Nige Rocket shines and cements his legacy as one of the best thrash guitarists on the planet. It is difficult to pick out the highlights on the album, but ‘Shellshock’ is just incredible with its aggressive riffing and intensity - but for me the 12 minute 45 second ‘Welcome to Dying’ is one of the best thrash songs ever written. Starting as almost a power ballad and progressively growing in tempo and power to passages of thrash majesty, this is a band at the absolute peak of their creativity and talent. The album also features a brilliant cover of ‘Let There be Rock’ by AC/DC and I remember queueing up at my local record shop to get a copy when it was released as a single. Onslaught reformed
redtanks guide to thrash in 2005 and have continued to release awesome thrash albums with hopefully many more to come. Evile – Enter the Grave (2007 Earache Records) Huddersfield thrashers Evile were formed in 2004 and were a massive part of the British thrash resurgence in the mid to late 2000s, and to date have five studio albums under their belt. I first heard Evile as part of the Earache Thrash Pack compilation album which featured the track Thrasher, and I has instantly hooked! Thrasher was taken from the band’s 2007 debut album ‘Enter the Grave’ and once I listened to the album it became an instant thrash favourite for me. The album has fantastic lyrical content and lots of its inspiration comes from film fuelling tracks ‘First Blood’, ‘Killer from the Deep’ and the epic ‘We Who Are About to Die’ inspired by Gladiator, along with tracks inspired by the life of Countess Bathory and witch burnings. The album oozes fantastic musicianship and songwriting from the outset. Multiple time changes, ferocious riffs, and guitar solos that places brothers Ol and Matt Drake high in the ranks of the thrash guitarist elite. The band pull on the influence of Exodus and early Metallica (the album was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, who had previously produced three of Metallica’s albums). Opening tracks ‘Enter the Grave’ and the brilliant ‘Thrasher’ set the album off at a tremendous pace without diverting from the band’s technical proficiency, really letting the listener know what they are in for with the album. For me, the absolute highlight of the album is Roman gladiator inspired ‘We Who Are About to Die’. I really love a longer thrash track with a progressive feel and plenty of time and tempo changes and obviously tons of riffs! This song delivers all of this and more, the mid-section of the song is instrumental thrash at its very best and never fails to get my heart pumping out of my chest. I really like all of Evile’s later albums but none of them have had the same impact on me as the epic ‘Enter the Grave’. Slammer – The Work of Idle Hands (1989 Warner Bros) This is a real personal one for me as I saw these guys quite a few times live when they toured with their 1989 debut album ‘The Work of Idle Hands’. One of those gigs was at the Irish Centre in Birmingham and is still one of my favourite gigs ever. Formed in the later 1980s in Bradford, Slammer were, I felt, unfairly overlooked despite being signed to a major label (but only for their debut album) as they were an absolutely stunning and talented band. I first heard the band from their debut 4 track EP which was just superb and featured the fantastic track ‘Born for War’ which I have on vinyl but to this day isn’t available on cd or MP3. The Work of Idle Hands deserves to be up there with any British, or in fact ANY thrash album and I implore you to give it a listen. Produced by Mark Dodson who gave the album a razor-sharp sound while keeping it sounding a bit gritty and underproduced (a very difficult thing to accomplish) Ok, I have to admit that Slammer are not the most original band ever, but on this album and 1991’s follow up ‘Nightmare Scenario’ they deliver slabs of thrash at its very best. One of the traits of thrash that I really love is the acoustic intro to a track, Metallica’s ‘Battery’ and Nuclear Assault’s ‘Brain Death’ being prime examples, Slammer do not disappoint me on this with the brilliant acoustic intro to ‘Hellbound’ before it rips off into a thrashy frenzy. Opening track ‘If Thine Eye Offends Thee’ is just brilliant and sets the pace and feel for the entire album ‘Hunt You Down’ and ‘Razor’s Edge’ are also highlights. ‘The Work of Idle Hands’ is now available on CD, so I suggest that you get yourself a copy! Xentrix – Bury the Pain (2019 Listenable Records) Preston’s Xentrix gave me great difficulty in writing this review as I really couldn’t decide to review their latest release ‘Bury the Pain’ or the classic ‘Shattered Existence’, but in the end, it was the awesome ‘Bury the Pain’ that came up tops! Partly because Xentrix kept us waiting for 13 years from their last album 1996’s Scourge,
redtank’s guide to thrash was it been worth the wait? HELL YEAH! New vocalist and guitarist Jay Walsh (from Bull Riff Stampede) is just what the band needed, and the band has an incredible energy on this album. This doesn’t happen that often but as soon as I first heard the album I went straight out and bought the CD and it’s been on my car stereo and headphones pretty much since. I’ve thought hard about what I’m going to say next as the words can get overused, but this album is a masterpiece and a thrash masterclass - from the opening of the title track to the closing of ’Evil by Design’, not a minute is wasted. It is literally all killer no filler. This is one of the best thrash albums of the past decade. Original members Kristian Havard on guitar and drummer Dennis Glasser are ferocious, the drumming is relentless, and the riffs come thick and fast. The album has plenty of nice breakdowns and time changes mixed in with the pounding thrash but it doesn’t lose the Xentrix sound we know and love. It has the energy and attack of 1989’s ‘Shattered Existence’ and sophistication of 1990’s ‘For Whose Advantage’. From the opening title track through the brilliantly paced tracks ‘There Will be Consequences’ and ‘Bleeding Out’ there is no let-up, the acoustic intro to ‘The Truth Lies Buried’ shows the bands musicianship. The highlight of the album for me is ‘The One You Fear’ with its fantastic guitar harmony which, if I was playing the vinyl would probably be near to wearing out by now. Released on Listenable Records (former home of Gojira) the albums deep layered sound can be attributed to the fact that it was produced by Andy Sneap and mastered by Russ Russell and what a great job they have done. Defiantly highly recommended by me as my friends can confirm, as apparently, I haven’t stopped going on about it since it came out! Proving that British thrash is alive and doing very well! Toranaga – Bastard Ballads (1989 Peaceville Records) Bradford band Toranaga had all the makings of a huge British thrash band that should have had a very big future ahead of them. Unfortunately, it was not to be and sadly Toranaga seemed to fade into obscurity. I really struggle to comprehend why this awesome band were not much bigger than they were, as their 1989 debut album ‘Bastard Ballads’ simply blew my mind the first time I heard it and is 100% an underrated thrash classic! The album was so good that they were picked up by major label Chrysalis for the follow-up album ‘God’s Gift’ released just one year later in 1990. This is a raw thrash album - very underproduced and full of energy. The standout track for me is the brilliant ‘Dealers of Death’ with the memorable lyric ‘want to buy a gun to use on anyone, there’s a price to pay’. I hadn’t heard the album for quite a while before writing this review and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it again. I’m going to leave this one a little short as I’m off to try and get a copy of this on CD! Reign of Fury – Death be Thy Shepherd (2015 Mosh Tuneage) Right, I absolutely adore Reign of Fury - not only are they a fantastic band, but they are such a great bunch of guys too, and I was honoured that they gave me the exclusive first radio play of the first single from their latest album ‘Exorcize Reality’. I discovered the band with their superb second album ‘Death be Thy Shepherd’ released in 2015, and I cannot stress to you guys enough how amazing this album is and how you should get straight out there and give it a listen. ‘Death by Thy Shepherd’ is along with Onslaught’s ‘In Search of Sanity’ my all-time favourite British thrash album and it is so deserving of this. The musicianship on the album is flawless. ‘Magic’ Dave’s drumming is world-class along with Jon Priestley’s incredible guitar work and the album is an utter masterpiece of NWOBHM influenced thrash. From the opening track right through to the incredible title track it will give you a riff overload. Majestic songwriting and structures keep you wanting more and more through the entirety of the album and man, does it deliver in bucket loads!
The album is beautifully broken up with the ballad styled ‘All is Lost’ giving the listener a bit of time to relax from all the incredible riffs that have been thrown at you. It is hard to give you the highlights of the album as quite frankly all the tracks are highlights but for me, the two tracks that get my heart racing are the brilliant ‘Love of a Dying God’ with its incredible striking and building intro and the unbelievable title track that breaks into a stunning instrumental mid-section before building back into more perfect thrash. Trust me on this one - Reign of Fury as simply incredible and deserve to be huge, if they had been around in the late 1980’s they would have been absolutely massive! Thank you for reading guys, I hope you have enjoyed the article and I will be back with another guide in the next issue. Before I go, I will leave you with my recommendations for a British thrash playlist. Stay safe and well you lovely lot - and hopefully see you at an HRH event in the very near future! Redtank OUT! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Onslaught – Welcome to Dying (In Search of Sanity) Evile – We Who Are About to Die (Enter the Grave) Slammer – If Thine Eye Offends Thee (The Work of Idle Hands) Xentrix – The One You Fear (Bury the Pain) Toranaga – Dealers of Death (Bastard Ballads) Reign of Fury – Love of a Dying God (Death be Thy Shepherd) Virus – The Hand That Feeds You (Evilution Apocalypse) Sabbat – The Clerical Conspiracy (Dreamweaver) Acid Reign – Goddess (Moshkinstein) Re-Animator – Follow the Masses (Deny Reality)
WORDS: SIMON REDTANK
WARREN HYNES - GOV’T MULE
THE LOCKDOWN BLUES
WARREN HAYNES OF GOV’T MULE
It’s fair to say that lockdown gave us all a case of the blues. But for road warriors Gov’t Mule, the group capitalised on their unplanned downtime to record not one but two new albums. The initial release will be the band’s first-ever traditional blues album ‘Heavy Load Blues’. “One of the positive aspects of the whole lockdown thing was that I had time, as did everybody else, to do a lot of writing,” explains guitarist, vocalist and co-founding member Warren Haynes. “I haven’t had this much time at home since I was 15 years old. I write on the road as well, but I do my best writing at home.” Gov’t Mule may have their roots in the blues, but they aren’t an outright blues band per se. Their sound transcends genres, seamlessly brings together southern rock and blues-rock, and even stretches as far as reggae if you listen to their ‘Dub Side of the Mule’ release. The band is a melting pot of sounds, influences, and musicality eloquently brought together in their distinctive jam-band stylings. “One of the things that I love most about Gov’t Mule is that we look at it as like some sort of laboratory to do whatever we want to do. And thankfully, most of our fans are happy to be on the journey with us,” proclaims Haynes. The group had a distinct vision of where they wanted to take ‘Heavy Load Blues’ from the get-go. “It was important to me that the album be a blues album and not a blues-rock album. It was also important that sonically, it sounded like it could have been created anywhere between 1955 and 1975. But not any time after,” said Warren. The band wanted to produce an album that was not just for outright blues fans, but that would also appeal to music lovers overall. “I don’t think it’s just for purists in any way. I think someone who’s never really listened to blues could enjoy it as much as they could enjoy hearing Freddie King ‘Burglar’ for the first time. Or Albert King
‘Live Wire/Blues Power, BB King’s ‘Indianola Mississippi Seeds’ or Junior Wells and Buddy Guy’s ‘Hoodoo Man Blues’. Those records, for the most part, have the capacity to appeal to anyone who loves music,” explains Haynes. However, the challenge in this instance was how Gov’t Mule would approach recording two new albums simultaneously? “It was very important for us to find a studio where we could set up in one room with the normal Gov’t Mule setup with a big room and big equipment. And a smaller room in the same building with lower ceilings and a tighter space with small amps and get a completely different sound. So, the two records that we recorded at the same time sound completely different from each other,” clarifies Haynes. “I think it worked out perfectly in the way that we weren’t just completely immersed in one or the other. The formula that we came up with, was that we would go in early in the day and start recording Mule songs. And as it got later, after dinner - it started to get late at night, we would go over to the blues room and turn off our brains and start playing blues, and it worked out wonderfully.” Having been cooped up in the studio throughout lockdown, a return to the road is presently on the cards. “We would like to get back to some semblance of normal touring. We would like to come back to Europe sometime early to mid-next year - assuming that all of that is recommendable. We’ll just kind of take it one day at a time. But our hope is to be able to pick up where we left off a year and a half ago.” With two new albums in the bag and a return to touring, perhaps, this is the news that fans of Gov’t Mule have been waiting for. ‘Heavy Load Blues’ by Gov’t Mule will be released on November 12th via Fantasy Records. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO : JAY SANSONE
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review - of mice & men grieving and loss as well as unpredictability and uncontrollable lockdown life. Timeless is the hardhitting, heavy-riff driven and bursting-beat opener that encapsulates the raw emotion of losing someone in your life that has had an impact on you. Bloom shows a more flourishing experience; almost transitioning from a frustration of grief to an acceptance. Finally, Echo hones in on a more delicate opening with the contrast of a punchy riff as the song unravels.
OF MICE & MEN - ECHO (Sharptone Records) Californian hard-rockers Of Mice & Men have graced us yet again with the news of their third and final EP as part of their 2021 trifecta. Earlier this year we were given two releases – Timeless and Bloom - both exploring similar concepts that perfectly complement each other. Now we have the final helping to complete the trilogy called Ad Infinitum which is due for release December 3rd but with Mosaic not included. The band have also announced their seventh studio album that culminates all three EPs together, wrapped up in an epic bundle of goodness called Echo. Both the third EP and the album will coincide with the release of both on the same day. The idea of releasing this sequence of EPs is so the band can tell a story in chapters. Echo - the final exposure to the raw, honest and as always passion that the Of Mice & Men lads never fail to deliver. Echo brings a collection of music together best appreciated when listened to as one story, with an addition of four new tracks and a beastly cover of a ‘70s classic. This upcoming release will have you playing tracks on repeat and discovering something intricately placed each and every time. The three title tracks bookmark each transition in the album reflecting the emotional rollercoaster of
Anchor is a personal favourite of mine; the breakdown in the main verse holds a mystical trance that lures you in for an eruption of sound! The mixing of Mosaic I find rather hypnotising as the lead guitar is bounced from one speaker to the other before the explosion of riffs cut in from the entire group. Fighting Gravity is a perfect example of the overall album concept as it explores the idea of letting go alongside the acceptance of how little control we each have on life and events. We learn about how life is too short, how we should stop and smell the roses, take in what we have right in front of us and appreciate the little things we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. The album concludes with a gorgeous cover of the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic - Helplessly Hoping. The thing I love most about this cover, is the fact that it completely has its own interpretation and style, away from the original composition, but still holds the same emotions and motive. This album is the band’s seventh studio album and it certainly shows growth from this four-piece and ventures into a topic that still doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough. Echo beautifully intertwines the themes of love, loss, self-discovery and the inevitable, into a perfect package of metalcore anthems with a well-rounded, well thought out blueprint.
reviews - Ministry / chantel mcgregor raise your fists, while singing along to the multitude of the most well thought out sampling anybody’s heard in a long time. The subject matter covers most people’s concerns of the day, asking “How concerned are you?”. Second track “Good Trouble” kicks off with a solid hard rock feel, complemented with subtle effects on the guitars added for your pleasure & chorus to chant along to. “Sabotage Is Sex” has a special guest appearance with long time cohort Jello Biafra contributing from side project LARD. It’s straight in your face no messing industrial metal, with overtones of PiL & some eerie indie Sisters of Mercy style guitars for you to chew on that really expand the whole auditory experience. “Disinformation” comes next which is pure heaviness. Sharp and crisp, I can’t wait to hear this one live – it’s fast tempo stompin’ rock’n’roll - you only need to turn your speakers up to eleven to appreciate this future classic. “Search And Destroy ‘’ follows and is a classic stooges tune, Jourgenson’s rendition has really brought this track a contemporary sound, and you could easily hear this one receiving commercial airplay.
MINISTRY MORAL HYGIENE (Nuclear Blast) Al Jourgensen returns with a brand new epic album “Moral Hygiene”. For fans of the industrial movement, this album illustrates that not only is the genre alive & well - thank you very much - but also that lyrically Jourgensen has plenty of topics to get your minds thinking. Kicking off the album with “Alert Level”, a stomper of a tune through most peoples stereo for sure, with a groove that’s going to make you
“Believe Me”, features a grooving bass which blasts through this tune with a classic Al Jourgenson vocal style. Next up is “Broken System” which contains slight arabic overtones accompanied by a big sounding hook in the chorus. “We Shall Resist” for me is the weakest moment of the album, which is overrun when you get to track nine “Death Toll” pure classic pop industrial, with Jourgenson delving into the subject of the pandemic. The album wraps up with tenth song “TV Song #6” - a total blast of industrial delight, you won’t be able to sit still hearing this song. I’d say contemplating on the last 18 months or so, one can only advise we all go find our “moral hygiene”. If HRH Mag did scores, this would be a solid 8/10. Russell Peake albums is that the first volume is entirely acoustic compositions and was recorded in McGregor’s native Yorkshire. The second comprises of electric recordings that were completed following the artist’s move down South. Each release features tracks that the artist’s fans enjoyed the most during her live streaming performances. McGregor puts her stamp on covers of many timeless classics. Highlights of Volume 1 include the likes of Chantel’s take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman”, Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”, and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”. Whilst, McGregor’s stripped back acoustic take on Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” is certainly a refreshing arrangement. Chantel switches things up somewhat with Volume 2. The album, featuring partner Jamie on keys, perfectly complements the artist’s gifted playing and wonderful voice. This is immediately apparent during a spellbinding cover of “Creep” by Radiohead at the top of the release. The latter arrangement features only voice and keys, allowing Chantel to focus solely on her vocal performance.
CHANTEL MCGREGOR SHED SESSIONS VOL 1&2 (Self Release) There’s that old phrase where you are waiting for a bus and then two come along together. Well, that’s certainly the case for fans of our very own ‘Electric Landlady’ Chantel McGregor, who released not one, but two new albums during the lockdown - namely Shed Sessions, Volume 1 and 2. The albums were inspired by the artist’s weekly lockdown live streams, also known as ‘The Shed Sessions’. The difference between the two
Aside from the covers, Volume 2 features renditions of staple tracks from the artist’s repertoire, such as the majestic “Walk on Land”, which originally featured on McGregor’s 2015 ‘Lose Control’ album. The minimal arrangement allows fans of Chantel to hear the track as they’ve never heard it before whilst “April” which has always been an improvised instrumental piece, takes on a whole new life when performed with only keys and guitar. The track was previously featured on McGregor’s ‘Bury’d Alive’ concert album, and at over seven minutes long, the song is prog-tastic, to say the least. This complimentary pair of albums represents a record of a strange time within lockdown life, where artists took to the internet to live stream their shows and keep in contact with their fans. Furthermore, ‘The Shed Sessions’ perfectly showcases the many facets of McGregor’s virtuoso playing. Adam Kennedy
review - Tthe darkness gamut from Egyptian sounding licks, operatic choral ensembles, staccato bridges, power ballad breaks and an uplifting major key chorus. This is where The Darkness are at their best, playing with different styles and sounds in a song about a sex robot. Gloriously silly.
THE DARKNESS - MOTORHEART (Cooking Vinyl) It’s been nearly twenty years since I first heard a demo EP for The Darkness and booked them to play at a club night I was then running in Oxford. They played to a little over a hundred people and, as they have continued to do, completely split the room in terms of audience reaction. The band tore up the stage, looking very much like they belonged in front of an arena crowd, which, ironically, some nine months later they would go on to do alongside the likes of Moby, Ash and Robbie Williams at Knebworth. Fast forward to the present and the new album, Motorheart. Kicking off with the truly bizarre, phonetically spelt Welcome Tae Glasgae, which proves to be quite the opener. Alternating between driving rhythms with bagpipes alongside namechecking gig venues and staccato riffing with shouty exclamations, this feels more than a little unsure of itself and its place in the world. Given provenance from Chertsey and Lowestoft it seems weird to be proclaiming ‘Pride of Scotland, take me back.’ Apparently, meant as a love letter to the city, the statement: ‘The women are gorgeous, and the food is okay’ falls a little short on praise for me. It’s Love, Jim, Star Trek parody aside is more familiar fare, with chunky riffs, catchy hooks and elongated falsetto spinning a tale of the wiles of a (potentially alien) woman with eyes of onyx. On to the title track of the album, Motorheart, offering easily the most assured track of the album so far. There’s a lot to unpack here as the track effortlessly switches keys, tempos, and styles at breakneck pace, running the
The Power and the Glory of Love packs in AC/DC inspired riffs and some cheeky almost Status Quoesque hooks. It’s a solid driving tune with an airy vocal bridge, morphing into a classic guitar solo. Jussy’s Girl is a fun play on the idea of Rick Springfield’s classic with some truly hilarious lyrics alongside some wonderful hair metal riffs and, bizarrely, a repeating helicopter sound effect. Lyrical gems in this one include: “I wouldn’t change anything about you except maybe your surname”; “I would wait on you, hand and foot, you make me feel sehr gut” and the entire outro, which I won’t spoil for you, but almost made me spit out my tea. Sticky Situations is a mostly laid-back tune with strings, acoustic guitars and the occasional swelling crescendo. Nobody Can See Me Cry takes the tempo back up again, delivering a solid headbanging number with surefire audience participation, this will definitely have them singing along “I don’t think you realise your power”. Eastbound seems to tell the story of a fishing trip that turns into a pub crawl. Musically straddling a fine line between AC/ DC and Blur’s Parklife. It’s a catchy number with some very silly breaks that somehow all work together to make for a memorable tune. Album closer, Speed of the Nite Time, has a more of an ‘80s new romantic feel to it with riffs reminiscent of The Cure and some very nice synth parts. Mix this with choral harmonies, an epic bridge and some of Justin Hawkin’s best falsetto, and you end up with easily one of the best tracks on the album. Overall, a mixed bag for me, there’s definitely some greatness in there, interspersed with a few oddities. It suffers a little overall from the lack of a true power ballad the likes of which were featured on previous albums. But definitely one for the shelf for fans. It’s fair to say that, undoubtedly, The Darkness will continue to divide opinions for years to come.
Simon ‘Spindles’ Potthast
reviews - CIRITH UNGOL / APOLLO STANDS / THE Georgia thunderbolts / when rivers meet
CIRITH UNGOL HALF PAST HUMAN EP (Metal Blade Records)
APOLLO STANDS INTERSTELLAR (Self Release)
THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS CAN WE GET A WITNESS (Mascot Records)
Early American heavy metal pioneers Cirith Ungol are continuing their current resurgence with this latest EP. As always, a very interesting listen as you can hear every band they inspired along the way in their sound. The EP is exactly what you expect, that raw early heavy metal sound from the late ‘70s early ‘80s combined with fantasy lyrics, delivered with real force and a sense of doom.
Apollo Stands are a band formed in Norwich, UK, in 2016. Their sound is an unique mix of genres from drum n bass, electronica to film scores - this gives their music a very expansive feel, none more so than on their brand new release “Interstellar”. This release sees the band push the boundaries even further, with a mix of songs that stretch the senses from track to track. From the opening track, “Void”, you get the heavy atmospheric feel you would expect from a film score, their latest single “Insolarus” continues this theme, complemented well by the various vocal styles of Ry Hase. “Synthetic” has a heavier feel to it, with solid guitar riffs from Olly and Alexei, interspersed with a more trance type feel. This theme continues throughout the next tracks, “Pick Up”, “Please Wait”, “Hive” and the final track “The Arbiter”.
Overall the EP has a fantastic sound and excites me to hear the next album, well worth picking up for any traditional metal fan.
By Taking their influences from a wide range of genres Apollo Stands have crafted a unique identity and style, definitely a band to watch out for.
Hailing from Rome, GA in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, The Georgia Thunderbolts are one of the breakthrough bands from the new generation of southern rock bands pushing through at present. Just like their name states, the band’s recent thunderous single “Take It Slow” is enough to grab your attention at the top of the album. Subsequently, there is a timeless quality to tracks such as “So You Wanna Change The World”. The Georgia Thunderbolt’s sound is rooted in the era of the early days of The Allman Brother’s Band, and their magical take on the classic “Midnight Rider” is a testament to this. However, the Thunderbolts prove that perhaps their influences are occasionally derived from nearer to home, with the inclusion of legendary Glaswegian Frankie Miller’s “Be Good To Yourself”. The five-piece add their distinctive southern styling to the track to great effect. With their debut album, The Georgia Thunderbolts show that much like labelmates Black Stone Cherry; they have a lot to offer the UK market – expect big things to come!
‘Brutish Manchild’ starts the EP with its swaggering confidence and intricate galloped riffs for a very unique song and the highlight of the record. Half Past Human is another gem, an epic power-doom symphony that’s a compelling listen. Route 666 is the weakest song for me and doesn’t deliver the majesty of the three others. Shelob’s Lair has a biker bar metal mentality that’s very enjoyable and catchy.
with twelve thrilling songs that are electric and eclectic! Album opener ‘I Can’t Fight This Feeling’ (not an Reo Speedwagon cover!) coasts along on a stop/start riff leaving room for Grace to soar skywards proving that sometimes less is more. Slide guitar scythes throughout ‘Never Coming Home’ like a snake around drum beats that weirdly brought to mind ‘Pretty Woman’. It’s a toe-tapper topped off by a vocal that could melt a glacier. ‘He’ll Drive You Crazy’ has teasing verses of sparse guitar, a soul-drenched vocal that morphs into a full-on rock stomp and a feedback soaked solo. ‘Don’t Tell Me Goodbye’ is a bonafide heartbreaking ballad as Grace shares vocals with Aaron to make their vocals meet! Musically it’s sparse keyboards, whimsical guitar and deft drum patterns. A simple but effective main riff drives the catchy rocker ‘Do You Remember My Name’ towards a meandering guitar solo and boogie fueled outro. My favourite track is ‘Have No Doubt About It’. Ear caressing keyboards, snare drum and fiddle take a back seat for a midway crescendo as Adam powers out a vocal backed by Graces howls. ‘Eye Of A Hurricane (Friend of Mine Part 2)’ starts as a gentle breeze with Adam taking lead vocal as a storm is whipped up by the majestic choruses. ‘Testify’, the first single taken from the album, is a fiery headbanger that doesn’t commit perjury as it forges along on powerful grooves. They just don’t shout the breeze in ‘Shout The Breeze’, they finish it off and bury it in this gnarly snarled rabble-rouser with a supreme Grace vocal tour de force. Sultry slide guitar oozes throughout ‘Lost And Found’ climax in a fretboard burning guitar freak out.
WHEN RIVERS MEET - SAVING GRACE (One Road Records) Only a year after When Rivers Meet released their stunning debut album We Fly Free in November 2020 they return with their second opus Saving Grace. The husband and wife duo of Grace and Aaron Bond defies genres
Time seems to stop during ‘Talking In My Sleep’, a beautiful ballad that’s almost ethereal as twin spine-tingling vocals are backed by an acoustic guitar strum. These dirty dozen songs end on ‘Make A Grown Man Cry’. Not sure about the crying but maybe deaf from this punky piledriver as it ends on full-on fury. Dennis Jarman
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reviews - ARMORED SAINT / beast in black originally out via Metal Blade Records in May 1991 for a 30th anniversary show at the Gramercy Theatre in New York during their 2018 tour. The double album consists of 14 live songs and a 5 song demo from 1989. Choice cuts come from the juggernaut main riff of album opener ‘Reign Of Fire’. It’s a metal headbanger pinned down by booming bass guitar, tight drum patterns and the master of ceremonies John Bush nailing his lead vocal. The pace drops for ‘Dropping Like Flies’ but loses none of the heaviness for some crunching hard rock. Ominous bass guitar starts ‘Last Train Home’ into catchy melodic rock. Hard-hitting choruses are belted out by the crowd. Rhythms match the title of ‘Tribal Dance’ as they bob and weave in this quirky song. ‘Half Drawn Bridge’ is a short but sweet instrumental of twin guitars. The title track hits hard and heavy as John pushes his voice to the fore as the band rage behind him. Heaviest track ‘Hanging Judge’ is a take no prisoners full-on bludgeon with brick heavy riffing and sinewy solos. ‘Warzone’ befits its title by probably wiping out the front rows of the crowd with molasses thick grooves! ‘Tainted Past’ is a 7-minute epic of snare driven heavy metal of razor-sharp guitars that ends on a lilting calm leaving John to soar. Encore ‘Spineless’ is definitely not - as it holds up this headbanger for 5 minutes of melodic thrash. A fitting end to an over the top gig!
ARMORED SAINT SYMBOL OF SALVATION LIVE (Metal Blade Records) Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1982, Armored Saint have chosen to release a live version of their fourth studio album Symbol Of Salvation,
My highlight of the double album are the 1989 5 demo tracks that are hidden gems recorded during the Symbol Of Salvation writing sessions that open with the abrasive riffs to ‘Nothing Between The Ears’ to make it a raucous thrasher. ‘Get Lost’ is owned by Johns piss and vinegar angered vocal. Creepy riffs give ‘Medieval Nightmares’ an evil vibe. ‘People’ is a curious slice of heavy funk but the guitar riffs are never too far away. The punk rock delivery of ‘Pirates’ sees buzzing riffs and gnarly vocals tear through 3 minutes of anger. Dennis Jarman
With never-ending intense tempos, wailing guitar riffs, juicy bass tracks, disco laden keyboards, and powerhouse vocals, listeners cannot make a wrong choice with a single track on this album. There is a great push and pull of songs that give way to a slower ballad that fills the gap between the mania that infuses their sound. What is a noticeable difference on this album are the layers upon layers of keyboards that are a consistent element throughout the album. Listeners may feel like they hear the influence of old video games in their sound. There is a creative balance not outshining the rest of the musical elements making up each track. The hooks are instantly catchy, and there is a feel of iconic 80s movie soundtracks that flow through the songs. When it comes to the vocals, Yannis Papadopoulos once again impresses with his power, vocal control and ability to morph the sound of his voice throughout each track. His vocal range and skills take each track to the edge and leave nothing unexplored. Between his gritty, rich tone and his octave range, he expands the musical abilities of their sound. His range offers the band more creative opportunities and the ability to test the limits of their sound.
BEAST IN BLACK - DARK CONNECTION (Nuclear Blast) The Finnish/Greek power metallers return with their third album, the follow up to “Berserker” and “From Hell With Love” and take listeners into a more disco metal experience with a lot of room for interpretation of each new song. With the opening track “Blade Runner”, the band sets the tone and opens the imagination of what is coming in this thirteen-track display of creative compositions. Heavy power riffs, danceable keyboards, pounding drum tempos and insane vocals. Beast In Black composer Anton Kabanen once again stretches the musical boundaries of the power metal while deeper enforcing that artistry has no boundaries and limitations should not exist where creativity is involved.
When it comes to the guitars, there is a ton of riffage that blazes through many of the tracks that will inspire even the shyest listener to take up the air guitar while inspiring others to get up and dance. The duelling guitars and the depth added from the bass brings fullness to the sound that pulls it all together, rounding out the overall production. When it comes to the conceptual idea in the lyrics of each track, those are open for each listeners interpretation. While some song titles like “Highway To Mars”, “Blade Runner”, and “One Night In Tokyo” might feel like a dead giveaway on the concept, the listener may or may not be correct at first glance and should interpret each track the way they hear and feel it. No matter the interpretation, this musical journey is one not to be missed. “Dark Connection” is next level progression for Beast In Black and makes for a great listening experience. Diane Webb
reviews -whitechapel delight I Will Find You ties in greatly as a carry on track from their 2019 release The Valley with an acoustic folk-death inspired soundscape that hops in and out of the core features entrapped within the album. Lost Boy was the first single to be unleashed which accompanied the news of this new album and immediately hits the listener with that hard-core Knoxville gritty sound all Whitechapel fans know and love! With guttural vocals, haunting riffs and tempo breakdowns, we are presented with a slice of modern metal that builds on what this sextet are best known for. Vocalist Phil Bozeman certainly demonstrates his screaming ability that rides alongside the instruments rather than as a separate layer highlighting his flawless singing ability.
WHITECHAPEL - KIN (Metal Blade Records) One thing guaranteed from a Whitechapel album is quality on its intended concept and Kin does not step away from this writing moral - although this phenomenon is not your typical Whitechapel release and has some fans torn; but if you appreciate the album for the evolving fantasy-led gift that it is, you may listen with a slightly different view. When these guys first dropped The Valley back in 2019, we were given a confident evolution in their sound and this now stands as a solid bookmark release that sets a new standard for the genre. With this in mind, I feel some fans are left slightly confused with the concept and ideology that was initially intended. Whitechapel discuss topics that are far more raw and personal in comparison to their character or theme led album chapters in the past. Another point not to lose sight of is that this is a band that have always set a focus for what they wish to achieve from releasing new music. If we take it all the way back to their debut album, The Somatic Deﬁlement, we are given an exploration of the twisted mind of English mass-murderer Jack The Ripper, which I feel is an extremely poignant album due to this historical connection that to this day still intrigues listeners. Comparing this to their latest release Kin we see a rather drastic jump but a gradual growth following their album timeline. Kin specifically deals with psychology concepts of the shadow self and touches on the idea of good and evil encouraging the idea that the music is changing with the subject matter of each release. Starting to dissect the album in its entirety, the first-track
This craft is also reflected through A Bloodsoaked Sympathy unfolding a feisty melodic vocal uniformed with a complementing guitar riff and ballsy beat, with drops and intricate ghost notes to enhance the sound to its fullest! A stand-out track for me has got to be Orphan, one of the first few singles released with an additional video to further its motive. Using more of a sung vocal style than guttural it certainly showcases yet another style that the Whitechapel lads completely transform into their own. Talking about the current themes that enchant their latest release Kin, these tracks appear to be more personal to the band honing in on true events and raw emotion that is constantly reflected in the lyrical side as we wander through track-by-track. Calmer, acoustic notes are definitely expressed throughout which some loyal fans may not appreciate, but this transition I feel certainly shows their musicianship and ability to adapt their sound. Some fans will be extremely pleased to hear that this is being released on a variety of different coloured vinyl and a variety of bundles are also available. The artwork was envisioned by guitarist Ben Savage’s wife; the vinyl sleeve explores its true beauty of dot work intricacy, more appreciated up close. My view? This is a mighty fine release that has carved an interesting road for the Tennessee thrashers. My advice? If at first you are blurred with the vision, take off your fan glasses, listen a few more times and entwine yourself in the acute and unrestrained truthful lyrics that have built the Kin empire into a fresh new concept and motive from these death-core veterans. Charl Hooper
Reviews - Joanne shaw taylor / twenty one pilots / MOTORHEAD /helgrind
JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR THE BLUES ALBUM (Keeping The Blues Alive Records)
TWENTY ONE PILOTS SCALED AND ICY (Fueled by Ramen)
MOTORHEAD - EVERYTHING LOUDER FOREVER - THE VERY BEST OF (BMG)
For JST’s latest offering, she has teamed up with production super team Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, along with a crack studio band that includes Double Trouble legend Reese Wynans. In a change of pace, the songs featured on the album are all covers, each of which were carefully chosen by Bonamassa and JST herself. The beauty of ‘The Blues Album’ is that the tracks are deeper cuts unearthed from the repertoires of many blues legends. Bonamassa adds his stupendous fretwork to “Don’t Go Away Mad”, whilst “If That Ain’t A Reason” is one of the many highlights of the release. On the other hand, Taylor’s brooding take on Little Milton’s “Let Me Down Easy” features a solo that stops you in your tracks.
Being the hard-core Twenty One Pilots fan that I am, I was pretty hesitant when I first heard the opening pop-punk sounding sequence to their first single “Shy Away” from their latest album “Scaled and Icy”. I admit, it did take a few listens of the album from start to finish to grasp the concept of this new evolvement but - I finally get it.
Throughout their 40-year history, the ‘loudest band in the world’ released an impressive twentytwo studio albums featuring more hits than a boxer’s punching bag.
Of course, we all know that Joanne Shaw Taylor can play the guitar, but this album really highlights the artist’s incredible voice. JST’s latest offering is so good that it will leave you feeling anything but blue. Adam Kennedy
If we reminisce over the last six albums from this duo, we can name a couple of fan favourites from each release, but the interesting thing that I love the most is the growth, stories and themes hidden behind each album. “Scaled and Icy” is a very pop-based album if you compare it to their previous alternative successes such as “Trench” and “Blurryface”, but yet again Tyler and Josh have embraced their next page turn and dived into a new chapter filled with fire and ice! Some of my stand out tracks include “Choker”, “Redecorate” and “No Chances”; if you struggle on the first listen, stick with it. A rather fine album from these lads.
As you would expect, the band’s latest release - ‘Everything Louder Forever’ includes all the anthems one would expect to find on a best-of compilation of Motorhead’s musical output, Including timeless classics such as “Ace of Spades”, “Overkill”, “Bomber”, and “Orgasmatron”, to name but a few. Whether you are a die-hard fan or new to the band’s music, the release leaves no stone unturned, and for the first time, brings together all eras of the band’s recorded history. It’s been six years since the passing of the band’s dearly missed leader Lemmy, but Motorhead’s legacy lives on through the incredible music that he and his musical counterparts left behind. ‘Everything Louder Forever’ is the perfect representation of the career of one of the world’s most beloved heavy metal bands. Adam Kennedy
bands held in high regard by British metal-heads, but around the world too. As well as the bigger names, there is also a large number of hungry bands, snapping at the heels of the big boys for a taste of the big time. Enter London’s Helgrind with their latest release, ‘Insurrection’. Formed originally over 20 years ago, the band have more than paid their dues treading the boards of stages both domestically and on the continent. ‘Insurrection’ was originally slated to see the light of day way back in 2017 but the usual musical differences have meant that the album is only now officially being released. Good things come to those who wait!
HELGRIND - INSURRECTION (Metal Rocka Recordings) The thrash scene in the UK has seen its fair share of bands break out over the last 35 odd years - Onslaught, Acid Reign, Xentrix and Evile are not just
Musically Helgrind blast out a very enjoyable, visceral form of thrash metal, bridging the gap between old school vibes but with the virtuoso shredding and modern feeling present in the newer breed of thrash. It’s fast, frenetic and a joy to listen to. From the opener ‘Dead Shall Rise’ to the closer ‘Helgrind’, the quartet rip through 9 tracks of quality metal sure to appeal to fans of Testament, Evile & co. It’s not all 300mph though as there’s the odd mid-paced stomper such as ‘Harvest’ on offer to catch a breather. Production-wise, the sound is as clean and sharp as you’d expect of a big-budget modern release and all the instruments cut through the mix equally. As with all classic thrash releases, expect no soppy love ballads here - tracks like ‘Raise The Flag’ and ‘Dead Army’ are as ferocious lyrically as well as musically. Vocalist/bassist Paula Nelson spits out the venomous messages over layers of chaotic riffing from Si Ellis and Joe Lyndon, all kept in check by the pummeling rhythms from sticksman Andrew Keel. The musicianship displayed throughout is top drawer and no doubt their collective experience in a live setting will set them apart from other bands on the British underground scene. They may have waited 10 years since their last record, but hopefully, the band can get their foot in the door of the British thrash elite. Neil ‘Not’ Coggins
Reviews - epica / CArcass to some global pandemic or something. In light of this, the band decided to put together what has become increasingly popular in these apocalyptic times, an epic live streaming event in lieu of a live performance. So, “Ωmega Alive” was born. Released to cyberspace for only three days on June 12th, 2021 with viewers from over 100 different countries, “Ωmega Alive” is a near two hour visual and musical feast, featuring debut live performances of tracks from “Ωmega”, such as “The Skeleton Key” and “Kingdom of Heaven Part 3”. The event also features other classic Epica tunes such as “Unchain Utopia”, as well as some fan favourites, rarities and a few surprises. Directed by Jens De Vos with Coen Janssen as creative director, the event features much more than live performances from the band, pyros and lighting. It also includes a ‘living backdrop’, filled with performances from dancers, circus performers, and even full choirs. Not only that, but there are cinematic vignettes interspersing the performances, giving the whole event a unique, mystical, otherworldly feel befitting of the band’s soaring symphonic metal sound. Standout moments from the show for me included an acapella rendition of “Rivers” and a beautiful version of “Once Upon a Nightmare” from 2016’s “The Holographic Principle”. Also, the video montage of gigs past during a celebratory rendition of “Cry for the Moon”, prove a poignant reminder of those days when we were still allowed to jump around in the pit, or, more like myself these days, stand slightly further back, nodding approvingly in time.
Back in February this year, Epica released the third part of what has become a metaphysical trilogy of the last three studio albums with the release of “Ωmega”.
The show as a whole is a testament to the skill and creative vision of one of the most ambitious bands of recent times attempting to provide its fans with a unique experience in what have been very, very uncertain times. Combining cinematic sequences, energetic performances and breathtaking visuals, “Ωmega Alive” is a unique experience which will be available on BluRay, DVD and various audio formats from December 3rd 2021 and will stand as proof to what can still be achieved even under extreme circumstances and that there are still boundaries left to push and spaces where musicians can really innovate.
Unfortunately, in what has been a common theme these last eighteen months, they were unable to tour the album as they normally would due
Simon “Spindles” Potthast
EPICA - ΩMEGA ALIVE (Nuclear Blast)
Torn Arteries, their seventh full length, is only their second album since their 2008 reunion following 2013’s Surgical Steel. Not the most productive of bands, the Merseyside trio - consisting of founding members Jeff Walker and Bill Steer and joined by ex-Aborted/Trigger The Bloodshed sticksman Dan Wilding - have finally returned with a bang following last year’s throwaway, lacklustre filler EP Despicable. No doubt the pandemic has thrown many spanners in the works regarding the belated release, but it’s here and is sure to divide Carcass fans all over again. The record kicks off in style with the title track and it’s clear early on what type of Carcass album you’re gonna get - nearly all of them (barring the first two grind albums) are represented amongst the 10 tracks on offer. From the sleek dynamics of Surgical Steel, the groove of Swansong, the abrasiveness of Heartwork and the heaviness of Necroticism, this is an exercise in Carcass plundering their back catalogue and throwing the best bits in a melting pot and the result is as solid as an album you can expect. Amongst the carnage on offer there is also plenty of that sarcastic humour on offer - from Eleanor Rigor Mortis (song title of the year contender!) to the handclaps in In God We Trust. It’s apparent that they had fun in the studio recording this and this results in an album that rewards multiple listens. Other stand out tracks include Under The Scalpel Blade with its frantic blastbeats to album closer The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing with its huge rock guitar intro that morphs into a Carcass groove-a-thon before thrashing out in style.
CARCASS - TORN ARTERIES (Nuclear Blast) Your average Carcass fan can fall in one of many camps - those that only worship the first two grind albums, those that love the death metal stuff but not Swansong, those that worship the first three but think they sold out with Heartwork and so on...there may even be some fans that will put Torn Arteries as their number one Carcass album. You’ll be hard-pressed to find somebody who loves each album equally though - such is the diversity of the gore-grind death metal pioneers.
Bill Steer’s guitar work throughout is as exemplary as usual, and Jeff Walkers bitter snarl hasn’t aged a day. Torn Arteries may not be as essential as Necroticism (arguably the finest death metal album this fair isle has produced) but it is a more than adequate addition to their rotting discography. They may not be singing about Mucopurulence Excretors anymore, but there still is a whiff of Putrefaction within Carcass 2021.
Neil ‘Not’ Coggins
reviews - cradle of fIlth / the outlaw orchestra Weight of the World on Our Shoulders’ introduces the vocal prowess of recent addition Annabelle on vocals and keys, before ‘Existential Terror’ pounds straight into an infectious driving rhythm and impressively catchy guitar hooks inside of 3 mins before breaking into gentler bass lead territory and further impressive dual guitar work - over the spectacular percussive machinery of Martin Skaroupka on the kit. All held together by Dani’s unmistakable vocal. And that’s just the first track. A formula followed, minus any repetitive regurgitation. Over 12 tracks of an inspired, unrelenting, brutal reiteration of why CoF were, and still remain, the benchmark for UK black and extreme metal, and indeed their own self-proclaimed inimitable identity. In their own words, this album is an accidental extension of a session line-up of live additions who have gelled spectacularly well. I feel the creative reins may have been fully thrown open during this album’s creation. The guitar work across the board is nothing short of incredible, the keys and backing vocals once relegated to atmospherics now brought to the fore throughout including solo outings on the introductory track, ‘Here Comes a Candle’ and ‘Ashen Mortality’. All combined with the obliterative assault of Martin’s nuclear rhythmic assault, easily on a par with the best of works from Erlandsson and Barke from CoF’s back catalogue.
CRADLE OF FILTH - EXISTENCE IS FUTILE (Nuclear Blast) Only with CoF can it be said it’s ‘apt’ to write and release a new album titled Existence is Futile during a global pandemic. Lead single and fourth track ‘Crawling King Chaos’ arguably sets the bar and indeed fans’ expectations incredibly high. A huge track, though also one I, as a diehard, also think represents a great accessibility point for new initiates to CoF’s now formidable, and still torrid at 30, back catalogue. Wasting no time with the ominous overtones for what’s to come, ‘The
Phrases like ‘unmistakable’ ‘classic’ and ‘return to form’ are oft used in reviews. Shock horror, a band that have done albums before have released a new one that also sounds like them. In this case, however, I feel I can hear a new sense of vigour oozing throughout this record. Perhaps the sheer catharsis of being able to do something creative during 2020 has imbued this album with an aurally perceptible passion. Brutal yet melodic, intricate yet ferocious. And yes. Still sounds like Cradle. Adrien Perrie
Making Tracks isn’t all about the lyrics though, the musicianship has been upped several notches too. Stunning banjo, guitar licks to die for and lap steel and slide moments that literally make your fur stand up. Add to this Dave’s lovely familiar vocal and the beautiful addition of Trish Burke (heard all too fleetingly on the debut album) there’s even Pete stepping away from the lap steel and banjo to bring us his best Ian Anderson on flute. An ‘Outlaw’ album wouldn’t be complete without at least one ‘getaway music’ track and if you ever find yourself in need of go-faster music, ‘Enough About Me’ should be your track of choice. All those comments about lyric writing and humour stand front and centre on this track, instigated by a quote from none other than Barbara Streisand. This is beaming smile music…whilst making your getaway obviously. There’s plenty of familiar ground here, the songs feel warm and cosy and as ‘Outlaw’ as they come but to underline their maturity and how much they’ve stretched their wings you need to look no further than two very different tracks. The lilting, lamenting and beautiful “Sea Legs” and the epic “Blame it on the Horse”. ‘Horse’ is no short sharp shock of a song, no upbeat getaway music but it still has its humour.
THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA - MAKING TRACKS (Voodoo Queen) With Making Tracks, The Outlaw Orchestra prove they’ve grown up and done so, so chuffing quickly it brings a tear to your eye. The band’s trademark sense of fun is still there even in the more mature songs. They’ve grown up alright but with a glint in their eye and the devil in their swagger. The lyrics are still wonderful, down to earth, lamenting, thought-provoking, funny and daft.
The ‘Outlaw’s’ most epic song to date and kudos to them for having the imagination, foresight and the bravery to do a track that comes in just shy of 7 minutes. This song shows every band member at their very best. The rolling thunder of Ryan’s wonderful drums, Dave’s stunning guitar solo, Pete‘s spine-tingling lap steel and the haunting voice of Trish lifting the track to another level. On top of this, the wonderful lyrics and construction of the song…from the opening line of “Lost it all on Tenessee Hero, dressed to the nines, a proper De Niro” through to the wonderful moment where there is the most incredible pause…forcing you to lean forward…desperate for the next bit…and oh sweet baby Jeebers that outro. The outro is like something from the Eagles …like Neil Young…Like…well, like The Outlaw Orchestra all grown up. Majestic. This is grown-up southern blues, country rock with swagger. To Quote ‘Enough About Me’ - this is a 12 on a 10 scale! Steve Beastie
reviews - SAMANTHA FISH / King of The dead / Ghost bath / exodus
SAMANTHA FISH FASTER (Rounder Records)
KING OF THE DEAD THE SUMMONING (Self Release)
GHOST BATH SELF LOATHER (Nuclear Blast)
For the gifted singer/guitarist’s new album Samantha Fish once again pushes her artistic boundaries. The genre-defying songstress teamed up with producer extraordinaire Martin Kierszenbaum (Lady Gaga, Sting), who co-wrote eight tracks on the album. Collectively the pair have delivered an album that is rich in both pop hooks and diversity. Highlights from the release include “Twisted Ambition”, which is a real earworm. Samantha turns up the heat with the rather sultry “All Ice No Whiskey”. Whilst “So-Called Lover” is one of the standout tracks of the album - it’s a shoo-in to be a future single from the release. Subsequently, Fish proves that she can turn her hand to anything with her collaboration with rapper Tech N9ne on the track “Loud”. The US-based artist effortlessly switches gears and genres with ease - from blues to rock, country to pop. Samantha Fish is somewhat of a musical chameleon in this respect. With ‘Faster’, Samantha Fish proves that both her talent and music know no bounds.
King of the Dead tag themselves as horror rock – but please please please don’t let that fool you into thinking this EP is just another slab of (with the greatest respect) Alice Cooper-esque classic rock tunes – that could not be further from the truth.
Ghost Bath are part of a new wave of more experimental but polished sounding black metal. Gone is the sonic roughness of the first wave of legendary black metal bands to be replaced by a sound that has sanded off the rough edges and is more accessible to metal fans with less extreme tastes. Ghost Bath have added shoegaze, post-rock and depressive elements into their slightly more atmospheric black metal mix.
f was against the dungeon wall with a dagger to my throat I would describe this new band as gothic Foo Fighters. There are hints of Ghost which kinda makes sense, and snippets of emo, even overtones of stoner rock but there is so much more here and it all sounds very modern in a very good way. The guitars are clean and crisp, the vocals and harmonies are spot on. The band are also producing a comic to go with the EP, to add to the back story and mystery of the release. On paper, this perhaps shouldn’t work – but it does, and it’ll make a lot more sense when you listen to this stunning 5-track EP over and over again - as I am.
In general, this combination works well but I do have one issue with the album overall. The drum sound on this album lacks weight and force. The bass drum sounds very flat and I think it takes away from the vitriol needed in the black metal passages of this album. Overall the album is an interesting listen and the almost Foo Fightersesque guitar riffs do cut through the mix and the added piano segments through the album add a depressingly beautiful touch. Alex Clarke
personally found ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ a little lacking, that has been put right on the latest release. ‘Persona Non Grata’ is a full-on thrash assault and a powerhouse of an album, the production is brilliant, and the musicianship is nothing short of flawless. Guitarist Gary Holt has been playing with Slayer (since the sad passing of Jeff Hanneman), with Slayer calling it a day he has been devoting all of his time and talent to Exodus and it definitely shows! The album also features a guest appearance from former guitarist Rick Hunolt, who replaced original Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett when he left to join Metallica. Literally translating to “an unwelcome” or “unacceptable” person, ‘Persona Non Grata’ touches on themes of modern societal disgust and degradation. “The people that disgust you - cut ‘em out like cancer,” explains guitarist Gary Holt. “Who is that person? It could be anybody. That’s up to the listener. Who is ‘Persona Non Grata’ to them?”
EXODUS - PERSONA NON GRATA (Nuclear Blast) Has it really been seven years since Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza returned to Exodus on vocal duties? ‘Persona Non Grata’ is the second album since his return and the follow up to 2014’s ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ and Exodus are on top form. I
From the opening title track the album is full of ferocity and power while still having purpose and personality, Zetro’s vocals are as good as they were in the ‘80s full of attitude and venom. I am not going to review the album track by track, if you have read any of my previous reviews then you will know that is not my style, I don’t want to give any spoilers as when I first listen to a new album I like to be surprised and not know what is coming, and I prefer to pick my own highlights and then see if this goes along with general opinion, in the same way as I never check a movie’s reviews until I have seen it myself. This is Exodus back to their absolute best and it would be a worthy follow up to 1990’s ‘Impact is Imminent’ when I feel the band were at their peak. This album has really made a big impact on me and after listening to it a few times for this review, it just gets better and better, I have already pre-ordered it and the 19th November cannot come quickly enough! Si Redtank
reviews - yes /Khemmis / Wicked smile /bleed again share recording between California & England. The eleven track album kicks off spritely with “The Ice Bridge” which is my favourite track on the album with pleasant guitar melodies, bouncing from classic keyboards, and a bass groove to tap along to. “Dare to Know” is a Steve Howe penned number accompanied by orchestral overtones and full of mellow arrangements. “Minus The Man” comes next, and while a chilled out number, this one has a chorus I found a little leftfield for my tastes, with a ‘60s feel in the hook - still very Yes at the same time. “Leave well alone” follows, and is a contemporary tune with some chilled out guitar solos and pleasant arrangements. “The Western Edge” starts with a mellow intro kicking into an upbeat tempo, and after a few listens this track became a favourite from the album. “Future Memories” is a moody, mainly acoustic song which didn’t really stick in my memory as much as the lyrics did. Moving on to “Music to My Ears” which is classic Yes songwriting, mellow in tone, but a great melody and hook to sing along to and complemented with a few interesting chord changes. Next up is “A Living Island ‘’ which is a weak point on the album for me and just a little too straight down the road. “Sister Sleeping Soul” has a pleasant feel; you’re definitely chilled out after this little number which has some pleasant vocal mixing to keep your ears entertained. “Mystery Tour” is the band playing homage to The Beatles, and their influence on culture. Close your eyes and you could imagine the fab four playing along to this happy tune. The album finishes with “Damaged World”, which starts nothing like a Yes song, however, the post-chorus features some nifty keys and some slick guitar work. The song becomes a fitting end to the album.
YES - THE QUEST (Inside Out Music) The Quest is the 22nd album from the legendary prog rockers and is produced by Steve Howe – the release features Billy Sherwood replacing Chris Squire who sadly passed away in 2015. Gathering material from 2019, the band started working on the album – like many - through the covid blip, sharing ideas online as their 2020 tour was cancelled. The band were able to
Not a groundbreaking opus one might have hoped for, more of a pleasant chillout that plays smoothly on a quiet weekend when you do your pottering about. Russell Peake
KHEMMIS - DECEIVER (Nuclear Blast)
WICKED SMILE - WAIT FOR THE NIGHT (Wicked Smile Records
BLEED AGAIN - RESURGENCE (Self Release)
American epic doomsters Khemmis are back to follow up their acclaimed Desolation album and I must say that Deceiver is a worthy follow up. Khemmis seem to have cracked the code of alchemy by managing to combine doom metal with elements of power metal, folk metal, thrash, traditional heavy metal and black metal. They sound like TYR, Black Sabbath, Bathory and Amon Amarth had a fantastic baby. The opener “Avernal Gate” is seven minutes of absolute majesty that shows off this unique alchemy. This song really grabbed me from the off and is the pinnacle of this album which already has a lot of peaks. The production on this album is fantastic. The drums sound heavy and bass-filled, a great crunch to the guitar tones and the clean vocals really lift the album and make some of these tracks into anthems. I will admit this album has really got to me and will be on my playlist for a long time to come, I suggest you do the same!
Wicked Smile are a band put together by Australian guitarist Steve Janevski (The Radio Sun, Cyclone Tracy) which leans on his heavier side. The influence from Iron Maiden, Skid Row and Dio all contribute to the direction of this debut album and the result is a dynamic and unique take on classic stadium rock. From the first chant of ‘Whoa’s’ on ‘Date With The Devil’ you are smitten with the immense force of Wicked Smile. Other highlights ‘We Fall’, ‘Killer At Large’ and ’Stronger’ are all riff and guitar solo’s on overload. Just listen to the immaculate vocals of Danny Cecati on the title track, the sublime ‘Sign of The Times’ and the emotional ballad ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ as they are just a delight. The rhythm section of Jason Tyro on drums and bassist Glen Cav, with Dave Graham also on guitar, completes the line-up. Produced by Paul Laine (Danger Danger, The Defiants) and mastered by Bruno Ravel, ‘Wait For The Night’ is available via all the usual platforms. Diane Davies
Anyone who likes metalcore needs Bleed Again in their life. The sophomore album from the South Coast of England’s heavy hitters brings a brutally fierce, yet highly polished sonic assault signalling their intentions of coming for the old-guards of the scene - and from the opening seconds it doesn’t let up until the very last note (and even though that’s an acoustic note, it’s still metal as F….) Demonic guttural roars to restrained and soothing vocals with an onslaught of razor-sharp riffs and planet crushing grooves show why these guys have gained the reputation they have amongst their fans and peers. Think Hatebreed and early Killswitch Engage meets SikTh in an all-out bar fight in Hell. I would pick a stand out track for you if I could but I’m already on my 8th playthrough of the album…today!!! So if you haven’t already done so, check out their single “Cursed” for a perfect sample of these future legends and you can thank me later... Si Fox
reviews - lixx / joe bonamassa / me and that man
LIXX V8 (Gathering Storm Records)
JOE BONAMASSA TIME CLOCKS (Provogue / Mascot Records)
ME AND THAT MAN - NEW MAN, NEW SONGS, SAME SH*T, VOL 2 (Napalm Records)
Lixx return with their latest Album “V8” - eight tracks of ‘70s infused glammed up rock n’ roll exactly what you’d expect from a band who refuse to lay down and quit.
It’s only since listening to the last album Royal Tea by Joe Bonamassa that I’ve started to appreciate how good a vocalist he is as well as being an amazing guitarist - and he reaches new levels in his new studio album.
One of my recent mistakes in judgement was to ignore New Man, New Songs, Same Sh*t, Vol. 1 for several months before giving it a listen; I didn’t make the same mistake with Volume 2!
If asked to describe their sound on the album, I’d have to go with Dee Snider having a party with Iggy Pop, The Sweet and T-Rex. Joe counts us down into the opener Zero Zero and from that point, the catchy hooks flow and it’s OK to forgive yourself for nodding or tapping out the rhythm with your foot. The anthemic Revved Up is sure to get the crowds going whilst It’s So You and Kick & Thrills bounce along nicely with hints of Hanoi Rocks shining through. For me though, Hollow Tree falls flat, not that it’s bad it’s just, well not great. The T-Rex(ish) Stare Shaped Hole pulls it all back however allowing us to enjoy the punk-esque Frustrated with the “poppy” Chills taking us to the end of a solid album. Si Fox
My highlights from the 10 tracks on offer include ‘Notches’ - featuring a gentle acoustic riff intro then taken on by electric guitar. Almost prog like grooves drive this seven minute masterpiece along with Joe delivering a gritty vocal that vies for attention with that groove and comes out with head held high before a snare driven outro. The title track ‘Time Clocks’ is sheer perfection! The perfect song! A ballad with balls that picks you up and doesn’t let you go until its climax. Choruses will break your heart, as well as punching the air simultaneously with joy when Joe pitches high with an astonishing vocal.
Behemoth frontman, Adam “Nergal” Darski, has once again collaborated with some of the rock and metal world’s greats and turned out another stonking blues filled album. When I say that this album has the same feel, same sound and same quality of music as Volume 1, I wouldn’t want you to think “oh, sequel… a pale shadow of the one before!” because I can assure you that is not the case. From the opening bars of “Black Hearse Cadillac” to the final strains of “Angel of Light” there’s always a bit more to drag you into the welcoming arms of bluesy guitars and words that take you on four-minute lyrical rides into hell and back. You could put it on your Christmas list, but why wait? Treat yourself, it’s worth it! Jezebel Steele
reviews - scarecrowz / nekromant / jerry cantrell / volbeat / the autumn killers / the temperance movement
SCARECROWZ DUSK OF ANOTHER DAWN (Self Release)
NEKROMANT - TEMPLE OF HAAL (Despotz Records)
JERRY CANTRELL - BRIGHTEN (Self Release) From the first steel guitar bars of opener Atone, a track 20 years in the making, you can tell this is going to be a cracking album, and so it proves. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Alice in Chains and Cantrell’s solo work – Boggy Depot and Degradation Trip from 1998 and 2002 respectively are great albums – and this collection is well worth the (very) long wait.
Following a career spanning back to 2000, this is the sixth release from the Ontario rockers and it certainly lives up to the hype. The vocals explore a ‘90s gruff grunge technique that is supported with distorted guitar riffs and classic rocks rhythms; this is poignant throughout Nightwalker and Skywalk. We transition into more classic rocks vibes for Woulda Coulda Shoulda and Bull By The Horns with more melodic toe-tappers that still host a fierce punch! Everything you want from an album, good ole’ classic rock ’n’ roll! Charl Hooper
Formerly known as Serpent, the 3-piece from Sweden occasionally bring to mind the dynamics of early Grand Magus and Dio, and the band serve up a crisp, tight sound and production with crunchy, melodic guitar riffs, rounded out by soaring vocals and harmonies - all complemented with catchy choruses, and dynamically fluid lead guitar work. The bass and drums are thick, competent, and masterfully round out the trio’s powerful uproar. The album shows a mature songwriting progression, along with a feeling of bigger things to come, suggesting influences of Sabbath and Pentagram, but it’s clear the band have progressed their sound on this release. The vocals hark back to a ‘80s classic rock high octave style, against a backdrop of punchy modern production. Fans of eerie doom themed, melodic, heavy, old school metal with a contemporary twist will not be disappointed with the power of Nekromant. Scott Knowles
VOLBEAT - SERVANT OF THE MIND (EMI Records)
THE AUTUMN KILLERS - DARKSIDE (Skyfire Records)
Danish rockers Volbeat are back and ballsier than ever before. Servant of The Mind is set for release December 2021 and is an album I had a complete mixed emotions about; a blend of hard-hitting classic rock anthems, to calmer acoustic tracks contrasted with a variety of genre blends including grunge, punk and country.
An album that I can confidently say blew my mind. An electro-rock amalgamation that I didn’t know I needed in my life - until now! Do You Want It is potentially the biggest ear-worm of the album with One of 5 following hosting a harsher guitar riff and haunting intro. Stand Up stands out with the guitar and synth playing in sync to a repetitive and very catchy melody. The title track Darkside concludes the album with a symphonic burst ending on a very satisfying high note. The consistency throughout the entire album is what has made this a solid release. With hybrids of prog, classic rock and industrial characteristics flowing throughout, this album exposes elements for a large number of audiences.
Canadian hard-rockers Scarecrowz have made their mark once again with their latest album Dusk of Another Dawn. This album is a headnodder and certainly one to add to a road-trip playlist with anthem-styled tracks such as Damnation and Bite The Bullet.
Shotgun Blues has got to be a favourite of mine; full of punchy, heavy riffs and classic rock inspired vocal techniques. This then also shines through The Devil Rages On which has an interesting country-like twist! A treat of tangled genres with the Volbeat sound-stamp, certainly has my seal of approval. Charl Hooper
Brighten, one of the singles to be released so far from the album (alongside Atone and the haunting Siren Song) is almost up-tempo for Cantrell, featuring his distinctive guitar work and beautiful vocals that take you back in the best way possible to Sap / Jar of Flies era Alice in Chains. Had to Know kicks up a gear and even features some sumptuous old school keyboards which adds a new dimension you might not expect from one of the gods of grunge. Brilliant stuff. Toby WInch
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT COVERS & RARITIES (Earache Records) From the amazing cover of Deep Purple’s You Fool No One - which features original drummer Ian Paice on the sticks - to a stunning version of Houses of The Holy which has been given the full Temperance Movement treatment, this album is a pure delight of re-workings and obscure tracks from a band which really should have been (and still, with a bit of luck and repairs may yet be) huge. That would take the incredibly talented frontman Phil Campbell to return to the fold. But in the meantime, we have these rare cuts to keep us going and remind us of how damn good this band were, and we can cling to a glimmer of hope for a reformation. Toby Winch
LIVE - BLACK STONE CHERRY / KRIS BARRAS
BLACK STONE CHERRY / KRIS BARRAS O2 ACADEMY - NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE Since the start of the pandemic, the sighting of an American band on Tyneside has been rarer than a glimpse of a Geordie wearing a coat. That is until Monday evening when Kentucky based quartet Black Stone Cherry rolled into the O2 Academy Newcastle. Tonight’s show is the group’s first appearance in this venue since 2012 and their most intimate appearance in the region for some time. It is of no surprise that the venue is packed to the proverbial rafters. The sound of the group’s repertoire of hard-hitting anthems fills the hall almost as much as the audience. From the opening notes of “Me and Mary Jane” and “Burnin’”, the crowd are locked in and raring to go. Jammed out renditions of “In My Blood” and “Cheaper To Drink Alone” allows the band to spread out. Subsequently, the four-piece turn back the clocks with the inclusion of “Hell and High Water”, “Soul Creek” and “Devil’s Queen”, whilst powerhouse drummer John Fred Young takes the spotlight with a thunderous drum solo. Of course, there have been some changes in the BSC camp since their last visit to the UK, with Steve Jewell currently assuming the bass player spot left by the recently departed Jon Lawhon. And the immediate observation is how seamlessly Jewell has filled that role. The adrenaline-fuelled chemistry between the latter and Ben Wells makes him the perfect foil for the high kicking guitarist. The pair frequently and hastily switching sides of the stage. Without a doubt, Wells is one of the most electrifying guitarists in the game. With over a year and a half of downtime from performing live, the high-flying axeman has a lot of energy to burn off, and he does just that this evening.
An emotive cell phone illuminated rendition of “Things My Father Said” from frontman Chris Robertson ushers the group into the final stages of the show. From that point forth, Black Stone Cherry don’t take their foot off the accelerator for one moment, with a run of back-to-back classics culminating in their anthemic set closer “Lonely Train”. It might have been eighteen months since most of those present have witnessed a live show, but upon the sound of loud guitars and the roar of the crowd, both Black Stone Cherry and the North East’s music fraternity picked up where they had left off before the world shut down. It almost felt like no time had passed, and both those on and off stage were back doing what they loved best. Tonight’s show is a cathartic release for all in attendance. Labelmate Kris Barras opened the evening to great effect. A full house was in attendance as the Supersonic Blues Machine frontman took to the stage. With a new album in the pipeline, the versatile artist isn’t afraid to showcase what is to come, and what can we say Barras’ fans are in for a treat. Kris’ new single “Dead Horses” kicked off the set to great effect. Barras has a knack for writing singalong rock anthems, and his new tracks certainly fit that bill. An up-tempo rendition of Freddie King’s “Going Down” highlights the artist’s ability to switch gears between blues and hard rock with ease. Whilst fan favourite’s such as “Ignite (Light It Up)” and set closer “Hail Mary” have the fans singing at the tops of their voices. Tonight’s opening set from the Kris Barras Band is the ‘Cherry’ on the top of an evening that cements the return of big stage, hard rock music to the North East of England. WORDS & PHOTOS : ADAM KENNEDY
LIVE - MASSIVE WAGONS
MASSIVE WAGONS - DOWNLOAD PILOT & MANCHESTER O2 ACADEMY 2 With the return to some sort of normality in the music industry, and bands starting to tour again, the mighty Massive Wagons finally get out with their 5th studio album “House Of Noise” - on a full UK tour in a proper massive tour bus. Gone are the days of cramming kit into their cars and top boxes, this time they are touring in style. The tour along with some European dates were all postponed from 2020 and they were eager to get out and bring the new songs to the fans. Earlier in the summer, they did have a few planned dates that included the Download Pilot event, this was to be the first ray of sunshine from the cloud of darkness for so many people. 10,000 rock fans would spend 3 days partying and rocking out to a carefully selected lineup to see how future events could take place within the government guidelines. Negative covid tests before entry ensured a mask free, social distanced free normal festival could take place and the crowd were loving it, hugging and being together in the moshpits. Massive Wagons delivered a face-melting set to the amassed Stage 2 crowd, and the amount of Wagons t-shirts was a thrill to see and the amount of people singing back the songs was a credit to the fans and the band for their mutual love of the music. “Curry Song” produced the new chant for the year – “I say Rogan, you say Mosh, Rogan Mosh Rogan Mosh” which also started the crowd surfers who seemed to love the freedom and came over in their hordes - live music was back! Baz’s reaction to the show was suitably buoyant: “The show was just so needed, by so many people, it felt absolutely incredible. The reaction was off the chart, people were buzzing for it, atmosphere was electric, we picked the set a few weeks back and had been working on it right
up to Download. Standing backstage, we all seemed to be a lot more focused, a few pre-match nerves, good nerves though, the countdown from 5 minutes seemed to take forever - but walking out and firing into ‘Pressure’ was an incredible feeling. Big love to the whole Download team and fans, everyone nailed it”. Onto the “House of Noise” tour – and with most venues sold out and many of the faithful making it to multiple gigs, it was always going to be something special. The Manchester show was as close to a home show as they could get and from early doors the fans were queuing up, many adorned with the new Muppets Tour Tshirts, fake Baz moustaches and glitter - they were ready to party! The band hit the stage with power and intensity kicking off with “In It Together”, a song close to everyone’s heart during these torrid times. Baz used every inch of the stage including the new risers that have been part of the stage layout during the tour. “Banging on Your Stereo” merges into “I Fought the Law”, “She Does It Right” and UFO’s classic “Surrender”. They are really tight and precise, with Stephen and Adam sharing the guitar duties including some searing solos with Bowser and Alex holding the rhythm together. “The Day We Fell”, “Hero” and “Sad Sad Song” gives the crowd time to recover before the set intensifies and comes to an end with “Fee Fi Fo Fum” and “House of Noise”. No Wagons gig can end without an encore and tonight is no different, “Curry Song”, “Tokyo” and “Back to The Stack” finish the gig, and the crowd, off. For over 8 years I’ve seen the band continually grow musically and develop something more than just a band - the Wagons are certainly rolling and there is no sign of them stopping anytime soon. The band now head overseas for the postponed German dates and at the same time announce some shows for 2022 including the amazing Graspop festival. WORDS & PHOTOS : SIMON DUNKERLEY
LIVe - ROBeRT JON AND THE WReCK / Troy redfern
ROBERT JON AND THE WRECK / TROY REDFERN HARTLEPOOL STEELIES Robert Jon and the Wreck roll into the North East of England for the final stop of their first-ever headline UK run. When the band’s current jaunt was announced the US-based outfit had just released their previous album ‘Last Light on the Highway’. However, with the pandemic grinding both the world and the music industry to a halt, the Californian rockers have managed to write and record a further album during this time. The band have also garnered a string of radio hits in the process. Subsequently, Robert Jon and the Wreck have gained momentum and a loyal following in the UK. Much like many of the dates on this run, this show in Hartlepool is sold-out. Despite this being the group’s first full UK tour, they are no newcomers by any stretch of the imagination. Robert Jon and the Wreck has now five albums behind them, culminating in their new release ‘Shine A Light on Me Brother’. You could say that the band has ground to cover as they introduce their repertoire to their UK fans. From the opening notes of “The Devil Is Your Only Friend”, the five-piece has the whole room in the palm of their hand. By the time the group launches into their third song “Hey Hey Mama”, guitar prodigy Henry James steps up to the front of the stage to unleash one of many astounding solos in the set - and each time the guitarist walks into the spotlight, you can visibly see fans transfixed by his gifted slide play and lighting quick fretwork. But it’s not just the guitar playing that makes this band special. The group’s songwriting, melodies, vocal harmonies, and singalong choruses, particularly during songs like “Everyday” and “Oh Miss Carolina”, put them in a league of their
own. To list the show highlights, one would simply recite the setlist from top to bottom. Robert Jon and the Wreck have depth in their songbook and setlist. Examples include the country/Americana stylings of “Death of Me” to the funky grooves of “High Time,” or the scorching southern rock set closer “On The Run”, to name but a few. The versatile outfit seamlessly switches between multiple genres within the spectrum of roots music with ease. This review could well have been a blank page, as the band left this writer speechless and without words. To put it simply – if you take all the best parts from all your favourite blues, rock and southern rock bands and roll them into one band, you get somewhere close to the Robert Jon and the Wreck experience. But to truly appreciate their magnificence, you must see them live. Of course, the headliners might have been the initial reason patrons bought their ticket, but the Hartlepool crowd get two stellar acts for the price of one, with Troy Redfern opening the proceedings. Troy, this time flying solo, with just the aid of his trusty resonator and a kick drum, gets the evening underway to great effect. One of the hardest working artists around right now, Redfern turned out three new albums during lockdown - concluding with his new release ‘The Fire Cosmic’. Subsequently, foot-stomping renditions of the likes of ‘Sanctify’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Waiting For Your Love’ all feature from the release during his opening set and are well received. Redfern’s opening set concludes with a fiery rendition of “Voodoo Chile”, which is the cherry on top of a stunning performance. The addition of Troy Redfern to the tour made for an impressive and complementary pairing, both musically and by their shared appreciation of cool hats. To borrow a keyword from the artist’s latest album title - Troy Redfern is on ‘Fire’ right now. WORDS & PHOTOS : ADAM KENNEDY
LIVe LIVE - Steve STEVE hackett
STEVE HACKETT O2 CITY HALL - NEWCASTLE-UPONTYNE 1977 was a year that witnessed many legendary events such as Star Wars opening in cinemas, the first commercial Concorde flight and was the year that Elvis Presley sadly passed away. It was also an era when progressive rock titans Genesis were on the road with their ‘Wind & Wuthering’ tour. The latter produced the group’s seminal live album ‘Seconds Out’ and happens to be the last Genesis album to feature Steve Hackett before his departure. This evening, Steve Hackett turns back the clocks as he performs ‘Seconds Out’ in full at the O2 City Hall in Newcastle. An interesting fact about tonight’s show is that not only is Hackett revisiting the music of his tenure with Genesis, but he is also retracing the steps he took with his former outfit. During the show, the artist acknowledges that Genesis performed on the very same stage back in 1977. Many of the fans present this evening were in attendance back then and wistfully reminisce about that night. This evening’s show is one of two halves. The first thirtyminute segment is devoted to Hackett’s solo works, which opens with the instrumental composition “Clocks – The Angel of Mons”. The artist showcases one of two new albums he recorded during lockdown via the excellent “Held in the Shadows” and “The Devil’s Cathedral” from his latest ‘Surrender of Silence’ release. The short but sweet solo set concludes with a segment from the majestic “Shadow of the Hierophant”, which eloquently wraps up part one of tonight’s progressive rock marathon. Whilst Phil Collins et al passed through the North East only a few weeks back on the ‘Last Domino’ tour, tonight fans of the band get the Genesis according to Steve Hackett and two hours of the group’s vintage material. And from the moment the second set commences, you can feel just how much the music of Genesis means to those in attendance. As expected, performing ‘Seconds Out’ in its exact running order commences with “Squonk”. The Boeing aircraft-style lighting replicating that of the original stage show, as featured on the album cover of ‘Seconds Out’, is a nice touch during
“Afterglow” and “Los Endos”, further adding authenticity to the proceedings. “Afterglow” wonderfully transitions into a stunning rendition of “Firth of Fifth”. Hackett’s virtuoso playing is a joy to behold all night long. There are many highlights during the evening, but fan favourites such as “The Carpet Crawlers”, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, and “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” are of note. Performing the album in its original running order sees epics such as “The Musical Box”, “Supper’s Ready”, and “The Cinema Show” featuring in the latter stages of the show. With “Aisle of Plenty” wrapping up the main set. ‘Seconds Out’ features many complex compositions, and Steve Hackett and his incredible five-piece band deliver the album with flawless precision and enthusiasm. Currently, with the advent of streaming, music fans appear to consume songs rather than albums. Tonight’s show in Newcastle allows Genesis/Steve Hackett fans to hear this classic live album in full, and as the group intended. To witness an album such as ‘Seconds Out’ performed in full is nostalgic - yes, but most importantly, it’s incredibly enjoyable. WORDS & PHOTOS : ADAM KENNEDY
LIVe - The virginmarys
THE VIRGINMARYS ELEVEN CLUB - STOKE-ON-TRENT The Virginmarys are finally back out on tour and raring to hit us with their riffy hard edged tones. Like many bands they have had to adapt to a new way of writing, tour planning and practicing around the lockdown rules. Rehearsal and planning for the tour got underway in March 2021 they are now out and touring as a duo of Ally Dickaty (guitar,vocals) and Danny Dolan (drums). Catching up with them midway through the tour, I managed to grab a chat with Danny and asked him what it felt like to be out playing live again. “Literally AMAZING! I never really fully understood what we’ve been missing until that first show back…feels like I’ve got my arms back!” He also spoke about upcoming releases and although no dates were mentioned, there is new work in the pipeline - which is what The Virginmarys’ family want to hear. Tonight’s venue is one of Stoke-on-Trent’s’ finest, The Eleven Club, which has been back open for a while now. Check out their website for listings of upcoming shows. Support for the night came from The Two-Step Goodbyes, a Stoke-on-Trent based psychobilly 3-piece who kicked out a high energy gritty set and Dig Lazarus, who are touring with The Virginmarys and releasing their debut album Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time. Watching Danny get ready for the show is like watching a boxer prepare for a fight - taped fingers and a fixed stare before he gets behind the kit, ready for the onslaught. With 2-piece bands there is nowhere to hide and the eye contact between Ally and Danny is clear to see from the start. There was a buzz in the air as the lights dimmed, the first
dirty guitar tones ripped out of Ally’s Marshall wall of sound and the bell rang out as they launched into “The Meds”, followed by “Portrait of Red” and “Dead Mans Shoes”. It’s hard to nail their sound down but it has shades of early British RnB, RnR bands but with a rocky edge, plenty of gritty vocals, guitars and thumping drums. Having seen them many times previously it’s clear that the move to a 2-piece has not taken anything away from the sound - in fact, the extra space in the sound gives it clarity. The energy they put into the music comes through in the response from the crowd and Danny certainly punishes his drums to the max. “Bang Bang Bang” bought the night to an end and to rapturous applause from a very happy crowd. However the band decide to continue. 2 or 3-piece, The Virginmary family will be out in force to see them play. I’d like to dedicate this review to longstanding Virginmary’s fan Simon Clapham, who passed away earlier this year. Rest in peace Simon. Setlist: The Meds, Portrait of Red, Dead Mans Shoes, Lies, Sweet Loretta, NYC, Running For My Life, Where Are You Now, Just a Ride, Devil Keeps Coming, Motherless Land, Killer, Look Out For My Mother, Off To Another Land, Bang, Bang, Bang. WORDS & PHOTOS : SIMON DUNKERLEY
EXODUS Formed way back in 1979, and famously once featuring Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett in their ranks, Bay Area thrash titans Exodus have been urging thrashers to slam their partners against the wall over the course of 12 albums. New record, ‘Persona Non Grata’, is pure Exodus through and through. HRH Mag got the lowdown with singer Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza.
return? That I couldn’t answer, I know when I went up there, out of the 12 songs on the record, he wrote nine lyrically and he wrote 11 of them musically, and I don’t know how he had them prepared when I went up to record and kind of hang out with everybody and get the vibe. They were pretty much already written.
It’s been 7 long years since the release of ‘Blood In, Blood Out’. Do you think that a longer wait in-between albums can add to the expectation and pressure of releasing a new album, or is it more important that the whole timing is right? There were many breaks in the time over the last seven years that Gary (Holt, guitar) might have had a break from Slayer, and we had a break from touring, but it wasn’t enough time to put out an album as good as Persona Non Grata. There’s no way to, we wouldn’t have been able to do it...we wouldn’t have the time. We would have been rushing it, we would have tried to get it done because we would have been trying to meet other demands, and we had the luxury of Gary coming back full time and concentrating on this record.
When writing a new record is it vital to write for your enjoyment as well as carrying on that classic Exodus feel that the fans have come to expect? Everything I write is for my enjoyment, basically. And I do write what Exodus fans expect I would write like that, I wouldn’t write any other way, I write from the heart and I always have. So I wouldn’t write it any different. But again, I know writing Exodus as we’re writing carnage and brutality and that’s what we have to achieve.
Obviously having Gary Holt able to commit 100% to Exodus again after his stint in Slayer must be important in the writing of a new record? How much of the album did he have written by the time he made his full-time
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There are some tracks like Clickbait and Slipping Into Madness that have real potential to invoke absolute carnage at Exodus shows. What tracks are you most looking forward to playing live from the new album? Personally, I can’t wait to play ‘Prescribing Horror’ and quite possibly ‘LunaticLiar-Lord’ if we go there, those are the ones I’m looking forward to playing. Clickbait also deals with the methods employed from news agencies and
the like to generate hits on the internet. What kind of relationship do you have with social media and the modern way of communication, have you embraced it or do you see it as a necessary evil? (Clickbait articles are one of my pet hates by the way!) I’ve been the subject of many clickbait things that I would be like ‘man, I didn’t say that!’ So, I don’t know. I do do a little bit of social media - I am on Instagram but I’m not on Facebook. I don’t really sit behind the computer. I’ve got better things to do. My final gig of 2020 was the Bay Area Strikes tour with yourselves, Testament and Death Angel. It must have been scary performing to huge crowds every night with the threat of a pandemic in the air. What was your mindset during this run, and also afterwards when you heard how sick Will Carroll from Death Angel had become? To be honest with you I wasn’t thinking about it through the whole time. I always felt like, I guess, normal people do and I don’t mean to be callous, like it’ll never happen to me. So I didn’t look at it like that. I just looked at, you know, to worry about me and keep myself healthy and kept going, and Will again is my good friend, he also plays drums in.a tribute band we have together, we do an AC/DC tribute called AZ/ DZ, and I was very concerned about Will, and I knew that it was... it was real, that it wasn’t something that was fake. I didn’t know how deep it was but I wasn’t that scared. I was more excited about all the crowds that were there, that had come out to see us. It seems to be the trend at the moment for bands to release a ‘lockdown’ album or DVD of the live streams they did during 2020. What did you and the rest of the band do to keep occupied during this time and how much of the new album was written at this point? Again, I don’t know... Gary and Tom (Hunting, drums) were writing the record, I mean Gary had had riffs for years that I heard, I had just never seen or heard them before he got together with Tom around May / June / July and they put the basic tracks together for it. Then when we knew we were going to do it we knew it had been seven or six years at that point, since we had put a record out so we knew we were writing one regardless that everyone else
was doing one because of the pandemic. Ours was well expected because it had been so long so that’s why we already had plans but that’s what we did - nothing, you know, we watched and waited like everyone else. Most bands have that one song that the crowd will go absolutely nuts to in a live setting - I’d suggest that Toxic Waltz is yours, a true bonafide thrash classic. Were you aware at the time of writing that song how much of an impact it would have on the thrash scene? No, I wrote it as a joke. Honestly, the lyrics I totally wrote to that song in about 20 minutes. It was really a parody, a ‘50s or ‘60s dance song kinda, and when I brought it to rehearsal, the next day as we were writing ‘Fabulous Disaster’. I showed it to Gary and I go ‘these are just a joke I just kind of wrote’, and he was like ‘oh my god these are brilliant, this is great!’ and I’m like, ‘No, it isn’t we’ll get laughed right off the stage!’. “Don’t be a dunce, and dance like a runt” I’m like, ‘Come on!’ he’s all ‘No, it’s great!’ and here we are, what - 32 years later, yeah, we still do that every night! Bands at the moment also love to promote their shows by playing an album in its entirety. Which Exodus album would you most love to perform live? Well we have done ‘Bonded By Blood’ before, but I think it would be great to do any of the ones that I was on, I mean we did ‘Tempo Of The Damned’ one time when we first put it out in its entirety, but I’d like to do ‘Fabulous Disaster’ or ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh’, that would be fun. Finally, you’ve been asked to curate a festival headlined by Exodus featuring 6 of your favourite bands, regardless of genre. Who would you most like to share the stage with? AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Iron Maiden...I mean is that five, six? Let’s see who else would I throw in there...I don’t know, probably somebody from the ‘70s - Thin Lizzy, somebody like that. I don’t know. That would be fun!
WORDS: NEIL ‘NOT’ COGGINS
Self described as UK horror rock and namechecking Ghost, 30 Seconds to Mars and Alkaline Trio as influences, the 3-piece known as King of The Dead have just released their stunning EP The Summoning. We caught up with the band to find out more. Good afternoon, how are King of the Dead today? We are great. It is another wonderful day under the tyranny of our vengeful masters, The Sign. Although you’re a fairly new band, tell us a little about the band’s history? We are a band made up of members from other bands that have been touring extensively through the decade. The project is an idea that has been building for a while, the break from touring during the lockdowns gave us the opportunity to bring it to life. The objective of King of the Dead is to make a band that is less about 3/4 personalities on stage and more about creating an experience. We want to blend reality and fiction and we want to appeal to peoples creativity. Your new EP “The Summoning” is out now. Tell us more about the record and how you approached the writing process? All of the songs on The Summoning tell a story, so the writing process is based around that. We wanted there to be a strong narrative running through the EP and have tried to tie in ideas and concepts from our comic book. It was important to us that the EP feels cinematic. You had a successful Kickstarter campaign for the EP and also for your comic – what’s the craic with the comic especially? The idea was always to release a comic book series alongside the music. The reception to the music we have released so far has been really positive and we found people have wanted to get involved in what we are doing. We decided that we should do a Kickstarter to raise the funds and allow people to put their mark on what we are doing. We have included all backers that wished to take part by putting their names in the EP and comic. The story of The Summoning focuses on Amos Bredfield, a drug addict haunted by gruesome visions. As Amos tries to understand what is happening to him, his surroundings become more bizarre and he is dragged into the world of the Occult. The comic we included in the Kickstarter campaign was issue #1 of an ongoing series. The new music has been written alongside with several more issues and we’re really excited about the direction it is taking.
You describe yourselves as UK horror rock – which perhaps gives the impression your sound might be deemed as classic – but to me, it’s a great blend of old and very new. What are your musical influences – I can imagine they are quite varied? Thank you, we do have quite a deep pool of influences. The main thing we want to achieve with this band is a feeling of excitement before your first listen of each track. We want to be the band that is not afraid to try different musical directions and we want to subvert listeners expectations. The kind of bands that did that for us are At The Drive-In, Coheed and Cambria, Opeth, Bad Brains and so many more. We are also huge fans of comic books and horror media in general, so we are putting these different elements together. The two elements we want to incorporate are a feeling that the songs could go anywhere and also a punk rock urgency. The new batch of songs double down on this and take the band down a new path. We can’t wait for people to hear them. Now gigs are back with a vengeance, what have you got lined up for fans to see? King of the Dead currently don’t have any plans to gig. We are focused on creating an experience away from the stage. We do however have a band with members that have an incredible live pedigree. We have recorded live sessions that you will see, but we won’t gig until the time is right. You guys are fond of making “walk through” videos for your fans – tell us more about them? We wanted to bring an aspect of live performance to the project. We’re proud of the music and wanted to showcase the different aspects of the songs. What are your plans for 2022? We are currently recording more music and writing the next set of comic books. We have a lot more in the pipeline, but none that our masters would allow us to share. Thanks for catching up with me, today … any final words? Thank you for talking with us! Make sure to listen to The Summoning and pick up issue #1 of the King of the Dead comic book! WORDS: TOBY WINCH
Atom heart mutha
ATOM HEART MUTHA The heavy underground is a vast and ever-expanding place and we live in an era where music is readily available and relatively easy to come across. Each week for ‘Atom Heart Mutha’ I listen to show submissions as well as look further afield to see what great music is out there. Here are my recommendations of albums I think are well worth seeking out and discovering, You can find these artists on Bandcamp and social media as well as hear them on my Atom Heart Mutha Radio Show, every Friday on Hard Rock Hell Radio
COMET CONTROL - INSIDE THE SUN (TEEPEE RECORDS) TeePee Records hail from New York and have always been an interesting prospect, constantly introducing eager heads to brilliant vintage sounds in the most modern of ways. One of their most eagerly awaited records of this year has been delivered by Comet Control, and the Canadian cosmonaut’s third album doesn’t disappoint. Right from the urgent psychedelic fuzzedout grooves of the album’s opener “Keep on Spinnin” it’s clear that the band are on a mission to take you to the stars. The initial stages of this trip are urgent and frenetic, but as the journey progresses the music moves towards the more melodic psychedelic tones and grooves and Krautrock beats that in turn offer a more expansive sound. In the background of all of this lies great shoegaze tones and a rather beautiful Floydesque closer in “The Deserter”. The vibrations here are as good as they can possibly be as Comet Controls third voyage is potentially one of the best things you’ll hear this year.
Atom heart mutha
DUEL – IN CArnE PERSONA (HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS)
Texan rockers Duel return for their fourth release “In Carne Persona” via Heavy Psych Sounds Records and once more prove that when you need a stoner rock’n’roll assault on the ears, there’s no finer band to do so. Duel is a phenomenal prospect live too - Tom Frank leads the charge with high octane riffs and a raw and powerful vocal performance that translate well into the music and “In Carne Persona” is the perfect vessel to capture what the band are capable of. The band’s evolution in sound unsurprisingly ventures towards heavier psychedelic rock - and the flourishes on tracks such as “The Veil” serve to demonstrate that the band aren’t shy to introduce new sounds to the already impressive catalogue, whilst maintaining that distinctive sound from their 2nd album Witchbanger.
KAL-EL - DARK MAJESTY (MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN RECORDS)
It’s always a happy day at AHM to hear the next step in the rise of Norwegian stoner metallers Kal-El – and here they return with their 5th and strongest album to date “Dark Majesty”. The record exceeds all expectations by moving beyond the stoner metal tropes many of their peers settle upon and whilst clocking in at a mammoth 65 minutes long Kal-El thankfully do not overstay their welcome. Instead, the length works in the band’s favour by allowing the songs to breathe a little more and take their time through the fuzzy cosmos they create. “Dark Majesty” is a mammoth record that doesn’t tread the same paths as its predecessors. Instead, it charters new territory as glimpses of the far-out space rock flavours become more apparent. Essential listening by a band I’d love to see in the UK someday soon.
DELCO DETENTION - FROM THE BASEMENT
Adam and Tyler Pomerantz - better known as Delco Detention - are a father and son duo that brightly radiates cool. The American two-piece caught the attention of music fans online last year with a relentless slew of Clutch covers on Twitter which amazingly resulted in the offer of a collaboration with frontman Neil Fallon on “The Joys of Homeschooling”. Guitarist Tyler was 9 years old at the time and his father is some 40 years his senior. What followed is the brilliant stoner blues-rock of “From The Basement” complete with a fuzz-head’s who’s who of collaborations including Clutch, Fu Manchu, Blind Melon and Earthless. The grooves and riffs on offer are nothing short of fantastic and the album is a joyful listen as well as a great reminder that stories like this still exist. “From the Basement“ is fun, heavy and guaranteed to put a grin on your face.
HOLy death trio – introducing (Ripple MUSIC)
Holy Death Trio recently signed to the magnificent Ripple Music Label and even before the release of their cool strutting debut ‘Introducing”, had quickly gained a reputation as a retro rocking force of nature on the live scene. Fans of NWOBHM bands and the southern boogie of ZZ Top will find plenty to dig here, from the highly charged rock’n’roll opener “White Betty” - all the way to the Sabbathesque doom grooves of “Witchdoctor“. “Introducing” is a fantastic debut with plenty of ass shakin’ grooves and hook fuelled riffs from a band that wears its influences on their sleeves. It’s said that this Texan trio were raised on Hendrix licks and Iommi riffs in the land of big skies and southern blues - which in the case of this confident rocker is a recipe for fire! Anyone looking for a good old-fashioned heavy rock’n’roll record with a cool vintage sheen will find exactly that here.
THE Autumn killers
AUTUMN KILLERS Three piece from South Wales, The Autumn Killers, have just released their debut album to much acclaim. We were pleased to be able to borrow some of frontman Rob Reece’s time this week to explain more about their writing process and what lies in store for the band going forward. Good afternoon, how are The Autumn Killers today? Afternoon - we are well thanks. Feeling very positive and optimistic about the future! Tell us a little about the band’s history? The band was formed in 2019 by Rob & Duncan, but went through a few line-up changes before the first lockdown in March 2020. We had only done a handful of gigs with the original line-up before lockdown and that really has no reflection on who we are now. The addition of Graeme on drums and percussion has provided the missing piece of the jigsaw that we have been looking for. The band as we now see it starts here. How has your music developed – and how different is the band to previous projects? The many different musical influences between the three of us have helped create what we feel is a very unusual and unique sound. It’s still rock but there are so many different layers to our music now, bringing elements of dance, pop, funk etc…….There is hopefully something for everyone. This sound now represents what we first envisaged the band sounding like, anything before doesn’t really have any comparison. When we started we didn’t really draw in all of our influences, it was mainly just your standard rock band of guitar, drums, bass and vocals. Duncan, although being a guitar teacher, has a massive love of electronic music, and has used samples and synths for years. This has helped with the development of our sound by blending the two together. You’ve been getting fans to submit videos to appear in your forthcoming video for Do You Want It – tell us more about that? In the early days of the band we did a fan video for the single “Chains” which turned out really well. We thought it would be nice to give something back to our fans and supporters and get them involved with Do You Want It after the success of “One of 5”. We have drawn in lots of different people for this video including family, friends, fans and even a Radio DJ from the US. There’s a very wide age span as well from a child of 7 to someone 70. Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how did you find it? Although for some bands lockdown hasn’t been so good, for us it couldn’t have been any better. It gave us time to sit down, think, create and refine our sound into what you hear now. As we both have the same home studio programs, we would fire stuff back and forth via email on a daily basis. This
was basically the platform for piecing together all the demos for the studio.
How are you finding the live circuit post-lockdown? ? I see you’ve got a gig at Cardiff City lined up – how did that come about?! The live circuit is slowly getting back to some sort of normality. We have seen pretty good numbers at the gigs we have played since getting back onstage, although some people are understandably still nervous about venturing out. Wildfire Festival in Scotland was our first gig back this year, it was great to be back on stage and the response we had was amazing to our new sound. As for Cardiff City, there was a post on Facebook asking if any bands would like to play pre-match at the stadium, so we responded via email. They gave us a choice of dates, but as Rob’s uncle played for Cardiff City and their opponents Sheffield United it was an easy choice to make. It’s a great way to gain some exposure to thousands of people and watch a football match at the same time! How did your album launch party go for “Darkside”? The album launch went really well, we played the album from start to finish in order. A lot of the crowd already had a copy of the album through our Kickstarter campaign and pre-orders, so to have the crowd singing your songs back after such a short time is absolutely amazing and really humbling. It’s a cracking album (we review it in this issue) how did you go about the writing process and what made you choose “One of 5” as the lead single? As we mentioned earlier, a lot of the writing for the album happened over lockdown. As we couldn’t get together the actual writing process has been very iterative, sending ideas back and forth over email and blending the elements together. Sometimes a song would start with a vocal melody, other times with a guitar or synth riff. We then developed them from there. Actually the first single was really hard to choose as we think there are a lot of tracks on the album that could be singles. We felt that “One of 5” was a song that could relate to everyone in the current climate and what we have been through over the past 18 months. The song also captures a lot of elements of our new sound and encapsulates it in one song. We are intending on releasing five singles off the album before we return to the studio next year to record its follow up. Thanks for catching up with me, today … any final words? All we would like to say is a massive thank you to everyone for your support over the past year and embracing our new sound. And if you haven’t heard us yet, check us out you might like us! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTO: TOM DAMSELL
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DEATH RATTLES Good afternoon Death Rattlers, how and where do we find you today? Hi - we are all good, busy writing our second album titled ‘Beyond the Fake Lights’ of which a few of the tracks will be first played in our set at Hard Rock Hell 14 in Great Yarmouth, which we cannot wait for by the way - and have been preparing a set that we are very proud of...we are found all over, a band of Misfits that are located between Southampton and Portsmouth! You’re a relatively new prospect - considering the delays we all experienced due to Covid 19, tell me about the inception of the band in 2017? Well the band has seen various changes since our conception in terms of the lineup - it was formed by myself, Dave Payne - Guitarist and Singer, Daniel Bateman. As mentioned the band has seen a few lineup changes in the last 4 years and with each change we receive new influences and inspirations which is great for the band and the music that we write. We are always looking to experiment with the music but keep our rock routes. What’s the City Of Lux like, how has it shaped the characters we meet? The City of Lux was the City in the story that we wrote around the concept when we wrote Porno Taught Me How To Love, the characters within it are based around the members of the band at the time, basically us vs the Corporate World and our refusal to be beaten. How did you approach writing and recording the debut album “Porno Taught me How to Love”? The album itself in some respects wrote itself within about 3 months, an inspired moment in musical history for the band, every practice seemed just to create new songs, lyrics and within 3 months the album was created. The concept of the album was already written by our then keyboard player and so with so many moments that drove the band to write, the wish and want to keep playing live the album simply emerged. We sometimes look back and think that certain songs could be better and we have changed a few bits on a few songs for live purposes that we think have enhanced the songs, but as a moment in time, for our first album we are quite proud of it and will remain close to our hearts - but we have to look and move forward and we cannot wait to let loose a selection of new songs at Hard Rock Hell 14.
What can you tell us about the live set? is it as theatrical as the music suggests? Lively, energetic, theatrical & heavy in places, best watch it in person we say...
Are there any other lessons one can learn from Porno? I’ve certainly never successfully fixed my washing machine as a result of watching one! Yes, like anything that has a process you can reflect to see what can be done better, in this case because Porno was written so quick our first lesson is that we do not need to rush, thus our second album Beyond the Fake Lights has more of a considered approach but still keeping that ‘raw’ feel in places. What’s next for the band, are there more stories from within the City Of Lux or is there a wider universe? Well next is playing Hard Rock Hell in Great Yarmouth, following that is the completion of our second album. We have recently signed a two-year distribution deal with AMG/Sony Music in conjunction with our record label Rock Solid Talent Entertainment, this is big news for us as we now have an international platform for our music. We have a gig on the 14th November at 1865 in Southampton and then various festivals in 2022. Busy and fun times, as for the City of Lux, it still remains and stands to support the good people of this planet... Are there any new bands on the horizon you recommend checking out? We go to a lot of gigs, watching many unsigned bands and the talent that is out there is so good - this nation is blessed and we hope that music fans start going back to watch bands playing at local music venues, they may just see the next big thing before they become big and have that memory for life...but as for bands to watch out for, we supported Hands off Gretel a few years back and they have gone on to do some pretty good things. Any last words ? Enjoy life, have a beer or ten and keep listening to the music from the gods which we all know is ROCK and be good to one and other and it is OK to have a kebab! WORDS: JOHN ELLIS
E L C R I C K DAR
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: SI DUNKERLEY
d o o w d i a Steve br yL nne Weir d o o w d i a Ritchie Br ”It’s all about chatting, watching bands and running the bar dry!”
Meet Steve Braidwood, Lynne Weir and Ritchie James John Braidwood three members of the HRH DARK CIRCLE - this rock family get around a bit to say the least, spending their time travelling the UK in pursuit of all things rock and metal. Introduce yourself guys and tell us where you hail from? We are Steve, Lynne and Ritchie and we hail from sunny Manchester (Trafford area). Yes, we do get that sunshine occasionally, even up north! Steve - Born in Trafford, moved to Hyde with family, survived Dr Shipman, then done full circle back to Trafford. I am a qualified Approved Electrician and Senior Authorised Person working in the construction industry but am more desk-bound these days. Lynne - Originally from Hattersley, moved to Eccles then onto Trafford 17 years ago to move in with Steve. Worked in admin for over 28 years for various companies, it’s what I love doing. Tell the HRH MAG readers - Steve and Lynne - how did you guys meet? We first met in 1990, as family and friends going to Status Quo at GMEX. Continued to meet over the years at several gigs and festivals. Lynne - 1999 at Big Day Out at Milton Keynes, where I decided to take a shortcut through trees and slipped hurting my wrist. I refused to go to hospital because I didn’t want to miss Metallica. Steve looked after me, as my ex was more interested in recording music. I drank loads of Budweiser for the pain (honest). Had a painful journey home then went to hospital the next day, to be told I’d broken and twisted bone in my wrist -so off work for 6 weeks!! Then went on holiday to Ibiza to recuperate with my parents! Steve - Myself and my friend Andy were preparing to go to the 1st Download Festival in 2003 and Lynne (Andy’s sister in law) asked if she could tag along. The story went - got to the festival and Andy forgot my sleeping bag, no problem got big red towel and weather was great. Set up tent, all 3 of us sharing 4 man tent. I had a double airbed (thanks to my dad forgetting the single had a puncture) and Andy had roll up pad, so was not sharing with Andy so me and Lynne shared. Plenty of alcohol, funny cigs and laughs were had. All went bed and Lynne bogged off to the rides with some Welsh guys, came back tried to open tent (very wasted). Had to climb in through top half of tent gap. Lynne got on the airbed and proceeded to
nick my towel. Had to find Lynne’s sleeping bag and ended up zipping it open and here we are 18 years later! Ritchie, at what age did you start rocking out with your dad? Although I was growing up listening to that kind of music, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens when I really became hooked on rock and metal. My dad gave me a choice of 2 gigs - I chose to attend the Marilyn Manson gig with support from Disturbed and Godhead - sealed the deal from there me and my dad attended gigs and festivals all over the place even going for nights out at Jilly’s Rockworld before it shut. When did the love of rock and metal begin for you all? Lynne - My sister got me into the rock scene when I was 11. I was introduced to Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and the likes. My parents bought my 1st stereo (white Galileo) and the Whitesnake Slip of the Tongue album. Then the Guns ‘n’ Roses Appetite album - I remember it was in Aberystwyth and playing the tape in the car when Rocket Queen came on (so embarrassing). Branched out to Manowar, Magnum then when met Steve - got into heavier stuff like Metallica and Slayer. I Now enjoy the power metal scene i.e. Power Quest, Helloween plus other genres. Steve – I grew up in the ‘70’s listening to all kinds of music but Quo were the 1st rock band I really got into - but my life changed when I was introduced to Black Sabbath at a friend’s house with the windows shaking. That was the wake-up call and I’ve been a rock & metal fan ever since - with other bits chucked in for variety. Ritchie - I’ve always been a rock fan growing up with 2 parents who love that music - the house was full of vinyls, cassettes and CDs of various bands from the likes of Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd and Meat Loaf to Metallica, Manowar and Black Sabbath. My dad used to always have 2 albums that I loved listening to in the car Metallica - Black Album and Manowar - Battle Hymns. I did have a phase in my early teens but I later became a wrestling fan and most of them had rock music as entrance themes that I loved and brought me back to the world of rock and metal. How did it feel to start attending gigs again and, how did you cope without them for so long during the pandemic? The last gig was HRH Metal before lockdown, but left earlyish on Sunday as Steve was seeing Fleshgod Apocalypse then Tragedy a few days later, then nothing. It felt so weird, not seeing people.
DARK circle intERVIEW best feeling in the world. When was your first Hard Rock Hell Festival and what was it that made you attend? Steve, Lynne - We went to Hard Rock Hell 2 at Pontins in Prestatyn. Just the lineup made us attend. We could not do the Minehead one due to distance and getting kicked out at 10am in the morning! We’ve been to all the Hammerfests from the start. Also been to HRH Metal, Doom, Sleaze, NWOBHM, Vikings, Blues and AOR over the years. Will add Goth next year ‘cos of the lineup! Ritchie - My first was Hammerfest 2 - I got a call from my dad who was talking about it as he had already been and the way he described it made me think this was a place I needed to be. What is your favourite/craziest/silliest HRH memory to date? Pretty much every DC meet at Prestatyn and those tequila parties. Those got messy! I remember one DC meet where the Jager machine turned outwards so we were drinking pints of Jager lol. Lynne doing the robotron with empty Fosters box on her head in the caravan… Getting very drunk 3 times in 1 day, due to Wendy page’s jelly shots and Jo Crosby evil rum lol Ritchie - There is quite a lot to be fair (we do have Rockchick in our caravan) but the one that made me laugh the most would be meeting the guys from Sansara in a caravan next to us - we had a few beers and were playing games with one of the lads who passed out - I lost so had to run around the caravan in my underwear thankfully no one was around to see that! Lynne – I was working from home (and still doing so) while Steve was working full time and Ritchie had a few weeks of furlough then continued as normal. Luckily in the early parts of lockdown we had good weather so we had isolation garden parties with our neighbours all striking up the BBQs together and ‘80s music. Not quite gigs but it certainly helped! The big thing now is meeting up with people again, making sure we are all safe. In the space of 5 weeks we’ve already done 3 festivals- Bloodstock, Stonedead and Rockin The Bowl - seeing friends who are predominantly HRH people, but looking forward to the HRH gigs again. Ritchie - My first gig back was Devin Townsend at the Manchester Academy 2 and honestly it was a flood of emotion - you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone! Being stuck at home not seeing friends and family did get annoying but video calls and bands streaming gigs did help to pass the time but it never compares to the actual thing. You guys love your live music. What is your favourite genre of rock/metal and why? Lynne - well it changes day to day, it all depends on my mood. My current one is prog metal - listening to Mono Inc, love the album. But yesterday it was Nightwish. There is not much music I don’t enjoy apart from the likes of Sparks, Kraftwerk etc. That’s more Steve’s other choice of music. It would be boring if we liked everything the same. Steve - I enjoy most genres of rock and metal but mostly power and symphonic metal - but it changes as I’m currently listening to Mono Inc, Collibus, Massive Wagons and Bootyard Bandits but that will change over the next few days. Ritchie - I try to keep a variety of styles on my playlists but I do mostly have power metal in there - the likes of Sonata Arctica, Edguy, Nightwish, etc I love the grand melodic metal with lyrics that get stuck in my head and riffs that keep the head banging. What is it about live music that makes you keep wanting more? Lynne – I love hearing new music either live or via streaming sites I.e. Spotify. But there is nothing like being in a crowd of like-minded rockers enjoying the live metal sounds. Steve - For me it is emotional. Meeting up with friends for pre-gig drinks and catching up with the anticipation of the music ahead. When you listen to a CD the music has been edited, mastered and polished but to hear those songs live and raw (even the dropped notes) with friends and a crowd is just on another level. Ritchie - Live music is like a drug and is hard to describe – it’s that feeling of belonging. Being in a crowd all there for the same reason, singing every word meeting up with friends and making new ones all over a few beers. It’s the
To date, who has been your favourite artist to appear at HRH, or your favourite event lineup? Lynne – I loved the HRH United lineup, it had a good varied mix of bands. This was before the genres were split. Steve – I Loved HRH V as it had a great balance of great rock and metal bands. As for bands where do I start? Sabaton, Kamelot, Candlemass to name a few. Ritchie - Best band I’ve seen at HRH has been Sabaton twice - seriously those guys knew how to put on a show and close out a festival. My favourite lineup is Hammerfest 3 that lineup was nuts - with Wolf, Turisas, Sabaton, Viking Skull, Beholder and Power Quest to name a few. What are you all looking forward too most in the upcoming HRH Calendar of events? A) Getting to see friends again, see bands we love and also see some new bands. Love the constant rotation of different bands at these events. Ritchie - The main HRH event. Although seeing a few HRH family members about at other events (is great) nothing beats the carnage of having us all together at the big event plus that lineup is beautiful. Tell the readers what it is about HRH that makes you want to keep coming back? As always, meeting up with friends we don’t get to see very often and catching up with a drink or (cough) two! The festivals are always well run with a guarantee of a great time as there is always a great selection of bands with a new favourite band awaiting, and some of the best people around. We have made many great friends through HRH and are always guaranteed a warm welcome. Ritchie - Never had a bad time at an HRH event - they are well run, have great crowds and an amazing combo of known and new bands. Plus - how many festivals can you get to when the people who run it all greet you by name? What does being part of the DC mean to each of you? Lynne - All about a close-knit group of friends, chatting, watching bands and getting drunk very quickly - running the bar dry. Ritchie - I say it a lot but that’s because I truly believe HRH are family and none are closer than the DC - the collective of mad people who always put a smile on my face whenever we meet up. Steve - It is being a part of a rock family. Although we are HRH at heart and I will always promote the festivals, it also extends beyond HRH as there is not a festival/gig we go to where there are not some DC members who we meet up with.